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The New Yorker: "His simple descriptions of rural life capture a lost way of life."

Date: Nov 19 2012

The Brunis, a family of tenant farmers in northern Italy, find joy in a good harvest, a happy maniage, a story told over a bottle of young wine. But simple pleasures become rare as two world wars, along with Mussolini's rise, transform the nation. Manfredi constructs his narrative with a methodical hand; all the characters possess unchanging personalities that foretell their successes or misfortunes. Dante, theoldest of the family's nine children, as a baby "would carefully observe any little thing that got into his hands. He would be a sage administrator." The technique makes for a somewhat predictable read, but Manfredi doesn't aim at surprise. His simple descriptions of rural life-"the monotonous croaking of the tree toads," "the delicate scent of the invisible wheat flowers"-capture a lost way of life.

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