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Carmine Abate wins the Città di Siderno Literary Prize

Date: Nov 13 2007

Carmine Abate wins the Città di Siderno Literary Prize for his novel Il mosaico del tempo grande (Mosaic of the Great Time)

Carmine Abate, author of Between Two Seas (Europa Editions 2007), has been awarded the fourth annual Città di Siderno literary Prize for fiction, his novel having being selected from a longlist of 165 novels. The jury announced the following reasons for its choice: “For Abate’s interpretation of the rapport between generations; for his ability to convey displacement, a sensation that he shares with his protagonists, who, as human reality shifts and changes around them, remain inextricably linked to a specific history, that of the Arbëreshë people;*  for his having created a setting that is at once specific and representative of a multitude of places, a mosaic of memory, history, and the present. This is the story of a community that appears to be in decline; its contradictions and its aspirations are transformed into an epic with mythical overtones. Every element may be seen in the light of the universal themes it implies. The principal protagonist is time itself, which spreads across a mosaic made of variegated and polysemous tiles, and is constructed with exceptional mastery.”

The president of the jury, professor Domenico Cusato from the University of Catania, highlighted the universality of Abate’s work. He spoke of the stylistic originality and the high lyricism of the writing, and of a plot that beginning in ancient, almost mythical times, and rejoining the present in the most convincing of ways, was gripping and brilliantly constructed.

“Part love story, part mystery,” said Cusato, “this is a work of great breadth that narrates more than a saga; it sings the epic canto of a people. There is a certain distance afforded by the displacement and alienation that both Abate and his characters feel, and this distance produces a mosaic, a story that keeps us holding our breath to the last page, that is, to the point at which the mosaic itself has been completed. A great novel about which much will be said in the future and that will certainly not go unnoticed abroad.”

In addition to this prize, Carmine Abate has also received the Vittorini Prize, the Reader’s award, the Libraries of Rome award, and has been nominated for both the Cala di Volpe Prize and the Dessì Prize. The hardcover edition of Il mosaico del Tempo Grande was reprinted three times in Italy, and the paperback version, recently released by Oscar Mondador in Italy immediately went into a second reprint. One of the most prestigious French publishing houses, la Seuil, has just announced that the novel will be published in France next January. 

* Arbëreshë are an ethnic Albanian community living in southern Italy and Sicily. These people are descendants of Arvanites and Albanians from Labëria who settled in Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries.

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