Once again, literature with an Italian focus will be recognized at the 15th F. G. Bressani Awards ceremony. In the spirit of literary expression, the biennial literary prize was established to recognize Italian Canadian writers and other authors who have taken an interest in Italian culture.
Anna Ciampolini Foschi helped establish the prize in 1986 after the Italian Cultural Centre organized the first national conference of Italian writers. Thereafter, Foschi felt the need to create an association of Italian Canadian writers and do more to promote such writing and awareness of the culture.
Only published works are considered for the prize. Shortlisted works for the four categories – fiction, short fiction, poetry and Italian theme – are judged by an author who excels in that category.
Foschi says that in the early years of the prize, many of the works told the tale of the Italian immigrant experience and adapting to life in Canada. Now that the prize is in its 15th year, she feels that there is a definite shift in the themes of the works submitted.
“Now young people writing are third or fourth generation Italian and the themes they are exploring are very diverse,” says Foschi, who is a first generation Italian Canadian. “The writings all have common roots in Italy but now they write about more current matters like social issues and feminism.”
The F. G. Brassani Awards ceremony is free and winning authors will be reading excerpts from their work.
Exploring life through food
Eufemia Fantetti’s collection of short stories A Recipe for Disaster & Other Unlikely Tales of Love will be awarded the Bressani prize this year in the short fiction category.
Born in an environment where sharing a meal was an important part of family life, Fantetti realized that this was not always the case outside her home. As an Italian born Canadian, Fantetti enjoys working with themes of food and family as well as exploring the desire for human connection.
Fantetti says that the stories are all thematically linked; they speak of people who are trying to deal with the complexities of relationships and life, with food as the underlying theme.
“Food feeds us physically or spiritually,” says Fantetti. “It’s fundamental to how we live and communicate with each other; we spend so much time doing it but we take it for granted.”
Although not fully conscious of the impact of food in her life, it has heavily influenced Fantetti’s writing.
Sharing a love for Italy
David Macfarlane’s book The Figures of Beauty will be awarded the Bressani prize in the Italian theme category, which is open to writers of all ethnicities who are interested in Italy and Italian culture.
After spending six months living in Italy in his mid 20s, Macfarlane fell in love with the country. He lived near the marble quarries in Tuscany and became friends with sculptors in the area.
“I’ve always wanted to write about that part of the world and about sculptures,” says Macfarlane, who is also a journalist.
Macfarlane explained that he had passed through Italy a few times before but had never had the chance to settle down and live there.
“I particularly like it when people of Italian heritage or people who have a love of Italy enjoy the book. A good deal of what I was trying to do was evoke what it was like to be in Italy at that time,” says Macfarlane.
“It wouldn’t take a lot to convince me to write about Italy again,” Macfarlane adds.
In addition to Fantetti and Macfarlane, the winners of the fiction and poetry categories are Darlene Maddott and Michael Mirolla respectively.
The F. G. Bressani Awards will take place at the Italian Cultural Centre on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.