Luigi Malerba

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Luigi Malerba
BornLuigi Bonardi
(1927-11-11)11 November 1927
Berceto, Italy
Died8 May 2008(2008-05-08) (aged 80)
  • Novelist
  • short story writer
  • screenwriter
  • essayist
GenreHistorical novel
Literary movementNeoavanguardia
Notable worksThe Serpent, What Is This Buzzing? Do You Hear It Too?
Notable awardsPrix Médicis étranger 1970, Viareggio Prize 1992

Luigi Malerba (11 November 1927 – 8 May 2008), born Luigi Bonardi, was an Italian author of short stories, historical novels, and screenplays. He has been part of the Neoavanguardia and co-founded Gruppo 63, a literary movement inspired by Marxism and Structuralism. Some of his most famous novels are La scoperta dell'alfabeto, The serpent, What Is This Buzzing, Do You Hear It Too?, Dopo il pescecane, Testa d'argento, Il fuoco greco, Le pietre volanti, Roman ghosts and Ithaca Forever: Penelope speaks. He wrote several stories and novels for kids, some of them in collaboration with Tonino Guerra.

He was the first writer to win the Prix Médicis étranger in 1970. He was awarded the Brancati Prize [it] in 1979, the Mondello Prize in 1987, the Grinzane Cavour Prize in 1989 (with Stefano Jacomuzzi [it] and Raffaele La Capria), the Viareggio Prize in 1992, the Flaiano Prize in 1990 and the Feronia-Città di Fiano Prize [it] in 1992. His name popped up among the candidates to the Nobel prize for literature in 2000.[1]

The memory[edit]

"An amusing writer, Malerba is a curious man: curious about language, history, customs, plots and coincidences in life. Not casually he ventured into novels, linguistic essays, screenplays for cinema and television and children's novels".[2]

Umberto Eco said about him: "Many have associated Malerba with post-modern authors, but this classification is inaccurate. The author of What Is This Buzzing, Do You Hear It Too? is always behaving in a maliciously ironic way, using subterfuges and ambiguities".[3] He was one of the most important exponents of the Italian literary movement called Neoavanguardia, along with Balestrini, Sanguineti, and Manganelli.

Paolo Mauri wrote about him: "Malerba operated within the Neoavanguardia: he liked the idea of turning the old narratives upside down and go for new, experimental solutions. With his novels The serpent and What Is This Buzzing, Do You Hear It Too? he started to play on the thread of paradox, where investigations lead to nothing, heroes born from the writer's mind and made to live on the page only to reveal an unexpected trick and a new, absolutely original language. He would then continue, from novel to novel, constantly renewing his themes and style".[4]


Stories and novels[edit]

  • La scoperta dell'alfabeto (1963)
  • Il serpente (1966)
  • Salto mortale (1968, winner of Prix Médicis)
  • Il protagonista (1973)
  • Mozziconi (1975)
  • Storiette (1977)
  • Il pataffio (1978)
  • Le galline pensierose (1980)
  • Diario di un sognatore (1981)
  • Storiette tascabili (1984)
  • Il pianeta azzurro (1986, winner of the winner of the Premio Mondello)
  • Testa d'argento (1988, winner of Grinzane Cavour Prize)
  • Il fuoco greco (1990, set in the Byzantine Empire)
  • Le pietre volanti (1992, winner of the Viareggio Prize and the Premio Feronia-Città di Fiano)
  • Le maschere (1994)
  • Itaca per sempre (1997)
  • Pinocchio con gli stivali
  • Città e dintorni (essays, 2001)
  • Il circolo di Granada (2002)
  • Fantasmi romani (2006)

English translations[edit]

Two of Malerba's books have been translated in English (as of July 2007):

  • Il serpente as The Serpent
  • Salto mortale as What Is This Buzzing? Do You Hear It Too?

In addition, another of Malerba's novels, Itaca per sempre, has been translated by Douglas Grant Heise (as Ithaca Forever).




  • Anderson, Helen Victoria (2010), Historical and detective fiction in Italy 1950-2006 : Calvino, Malerba and Mancinelli, D. Phil. University of Oxford

External links[edit]