Just wanted to feature this powerful collection of Italian short stories that would be of interest to crime readers and non-crime readers alike. These stories first came to the attention of Italian readers as part of a wider series of twice weekly supplements sold with the national daily Corriere della Sera. In 2010, the publisher Einaudi brought the stories together under the title of Sei fuori posto– broadly translated as ‘you’re out of place’, with the Italian for ‘you’re’ also interpretable as the number six, with perhaps a subtle nod to Luigi  Pirandello’s influential play Six Characters In Search of an Author. ‘Outsiders’ is a fascinating collection exploring huge themes within the compact short story form.

All the stories centre on feelings of dislocation and isolation, with the central protagonists charged with prising open and confronting the tensions of the world they inhabit. They are loners and misfits with each story cleverly tapping into the feelings we all experience at one time or another as feeling slightly out of step with the world, and  how we deal with isolation whether self-imposed or as a result of our interaction with society and those we encounter along the paths of our lives. What we see in microcosm within these stories is an exploration of what it means to be out of place, in a collection that encapsulates how the very nature of Italian socio-economic life fuels the theme of being an outsider.

Roberto Saviano- The Other Side of Death

Through the eyes of Maria, Saviano depicts the impoverished region surrounding Naples and reveals the impact of Italy’s participation in wars in Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Roberto Saviano writes for La Repubblica and L’Espresso amongst other publications and is the author of Gomorrah also adapted as a film winning the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2008, and a collection of essays published as Beauty and the Inferno.

Carlo Lucarelli- Ferengi

A maid, caring for her bedridden colonial master and subject to the control of his conniving daughter-in-law, proves to be the undoing of this exploitative colonial family, in a story laying bare the face of oppression in Italian-occupied Eritrea.

Carlo Lucarelli is a crime writer, television presenter and magazine editor. His first crime novels formed the Commissario de Luca trilogy, followed by the Ispettore Grazia Negro mysteries and Lucarelli has also written numerous radio plays and screenplays.

Valeria Parella- The Prize

A peasant girl embarks on a journey to earn her place in Italian society bearing witness to the dictates of the class system in southern Italy post World War II.

Valeria Parella is a theatre actor and short story writer. Her  collection of stories Mosca piu balena was awarded the Premio Campiello in 2004. Her next collection Per grazia ricevuta was published in English as For Grace Received. Her most recent book is Antigone.

Piero Colaprico- Stairway C

The cycle of poverty and drug-dealing in 1980‘s Milan is explored when the residents of this grim world of run-down social housing find themselves under suspicion of murdering a schoolteacher.

Piero Colaprico is a special correspondent for La Repubblica on crime-related issues. As well as publishing several high-profile works of journalism, Colaprico is an established crime author co-writing a series of books with Pietro Valpreda featuring Maresciallo Binda and which he has continued to write alone since Valpreda’s death.

Wu Ming- American Parmesan

An Italian cheese-maker Adalberto Rizzo, attempts to recreate the perfect conditions for producing Parmesan in East Coast America, seeking to also assimilate himself into American culture, putting him at odds with his fellow  Italians bent on retaining the supremacy of the Italian Parmesan brand.

The Wu Ming Foundation describes itself as ‘a mysterious collective of guerilla novelists from Italy’. The writer’s collective was formed in 2000 out of the Luther Blissett Project, an existing group of hundreds of artists and social activists across Europe. Together they are the authors of more than fifteen novels of which Q, 54 and Manituana are available in English.

Simona Vinci- Another Kind of Solitude

An essay on isolation and loneliness that focuses on the need to isolate oneself deliberately from the world using historical examples from psychology and literature. Vinci also examines the stress on the modern-day individual, using very contemporary examples, where feelings of isolation can develop in a fast-moving but increasingly alienating world.

Simona Vinci was awarded the Premio Elsa Morante for her first novel Dei bambini non si sa niente-controversial for its depiction of sexuality amongst a group of younger and older children-  published in English to wide critical acclaim as A Game We Play.

Outsiders-Six Italian Stories with an introduction by Ben Faccini is published by MacLehose Press.

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(With thanks to MacLehose Press for the ARC)

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