There are seven incredible pieces of fiction in the latest issue of Two Lines:
Francesco Piccolo, translated by Antony Shugaar
Patricio Pron, translated by Kathleen Heil
Natsuko Kuroda, translated by Angus Turvill
Carlos Labbé, translated by Will Vanderhyden
Abdellah Taïa, translated by Chris Clarke and Emma Ramadan
Anna Katharina Hahn, translated by Marshall Yarbrough
Johanne Lykke Holm, translated by Saskia Vogel
The very first piece in the latest Two Lines journal is an excerpt from Francesco Piccolo’s Wanna Be Like Everyone. The book came out in Italy in 2013 and won the prestigious Strega Prize in 2014. Translator Antony Shugaar wrote a beautiful essay about the novel back in 2014 for the Paris Review, describing the political context of this novel.
While Piccolo’s novel is in fact very personal, it is framed by Italy’s politically-charged “Years of Lead,” a tumultuous period from the late sixties to the early eighties. And both Enrico Berlinguer, the leader of the Italian Communist Party during the seventies and early eighties, and Silvio Berlusconi are key figures in the novel. In the excerpt we’ve included in the journal, the narrator recounts his own experience on the day of the famous 1978 kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro (which Shugaar describes in his article as the Italian equivalent to the JFK assassination in the United States, in terms of the event’s impact on the national psyche). As Piccolo writes, in Shugaar’s translation, “That day everyone, even the most blithely indifferent, was forced to be born for the second time.”
It’s oddly fitting that Piccolo’s novel reach an English audience now, as the United States grows increasingly more politically divided and we find ourselves no longer capable of separating our personal and political selves. Reading Shugaar’s 2014 essay, I can’t help but feel that we are now ready for Piccolo’s political novel, that it’s themes will resonate much more with the current American psyche than with the one of only a few years ago. Here, for example, is one passage from the essay:
It can be hard for an American reader to follow some of the currents of solidarity, hatred, frustration, and dashed hopes in this very political book. Piccolo is a gifted explainer, but nothing explains his ultimate embrace of the calm and superficial—his willingness to accept “human beings we’d never even known existed,” as he refers to Berlusconi and his ilk—the way that an episode from his family life does. He finds that his father has a complete collection of every article he’s written, most of them political anathema to the elder Piccolo, and yet dear to him because of their author. Family, in the end, trumps philosophy; the dangerous creatures of the political depths cannot swim in the shallows of love.
Order the latest issue to read Piccolo and so many other authors and poets from around the world. Or why not subscribe for only $15?