Life-writing by/about Italians in Australia

CoverSmallLife-writing by and about Italians in Australia continues to be a popular field, as John Gatt-Rutter’s The Bilingual Cockatoo: Writing Italian Australian Lives (2014) illustrates. Antonio Sbirziola has been one of its most successful practitioners. Born in Butera (Caltanisetta) in 1942, he made his way to Australia in 1961 where he worked on the railways. Virtually an autodidact (he left school when he was 12) he has written several accounts of different stages in his life, notably Un giorno è bello e il prossimo migliore (Terre di mezzo, 2007), awarded the Premio Pieve by the Archivio Diaristico Nazionale in 2006, and Povero, onesto e gentiluomo: Un emigrante in Australia 1954-1961 (Il Mulino, 2012). A very different perspective on Italians in Australia has recently appeared in Vivien Achia’s Marrying Italian (2014) whose subtitle ‘When love is not enough’ suggests what is to come. Shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s literary awards in 2014, it offers a particularly sensitive first-person account of the pleasures and pains of a cross-cultural marriage.

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