Welsh Italian authors

LES SERVINI

 

A Boy From Bardi: My Life and Times (1994)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
An overview by Bruna Chezzi
 
This memoir is the first written work published by a any member of the Welsh Italian community. It contains personal recollections of the Second World War and the Arandora Star which makes it the first written testimony of the tragedy from within the Welsh Italian community. The book is out of print. Here is an abstract:

    

Can you believe that after 70 years in Wales I get this “gut” feeling whenever I return to my roots? Yet Bardi Castle
comes into sight, when I walked up the little hill to Cogno, the blood sings, the heart beats faster, I am home! Only my cousin Maria remains of our clan in Grezzo. My birth place, just a few miles north of Bardi, is much changed, spanking new houses, only one or two families working the land, roads, water on tap, a bath, a toilet! What would my grandfather have said! The church is still the same as when I was baptised, but is now served from Bardi, my dear ones lie asleep in the churchyard, the Cappella has been refurbished, largely with money from Wales and elsewhere, otherwise the place is barely recognisable. (page 2)

PAULETTE PELOSI
 

Schoolbooks in Spaghetti Paper’, published in  Even the Rain is Different: Women Writing on the Highs and Lows of Living Abroad (2005).

 
 
An overview by Bruna Chezzi
 
Schoolbooks in Spaghetti Paper is a sentimental travelogue in which the author describes the ‘highs and lows of living abroad’, especially as Pelosi engages in a series of cultural comparisons between Italy and Wales. Pelosi’s text stands out for the particular attention to details to convey a romanticised and nostalgic portrayal of Italy. the description reveals a strong desire to revive her father’s experience not just to rediscover the magic of some idyllic places, but also in an attempt to revive and embody her father’s Italianness to the full.

ANITA ARCARI 
The Hokey Pokey Man (2010) 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                 

An overview by Bruna Chezzi

 

The Hokey Pokey Man is a family saga inspired by Arcari’s family. It tells the story of generations of Italians from Picinisco, south of Italy, who migrated to London and Wales. In spite of the fact this is a semi-fictional novel, as opposed to other works by Welsh Italian writers that are essentially autobiographical, it addresses similar notions of nostalgia and belonging that reveal the tension between two cultures. Arcari develops these themes around the main protagonist, Tino d’Abruzzo, a poor young peasant who attracted by the perspectives of making money to gain a better life, accepts the offer to go and help his uncle’s business in London, after Tino’s brother, Francesco, returns to Italy to join the Bersaglieri in Rome. Initially, Tino is reluctant to leave as he falls deeply in love with Mara, a local girl, but the duty and loyalty to his family and the perspectives to make money to marry and guarantee a better life to his sweetheart, influence the final decision. In reality, the reader learns from the start that behind this decision is a secret conspiracy to distance the two lovers to fulfil an agreement between Raffaele, Tino’s father and his best friend Grillo. Raffaele, who is secretly driven by a selfish ambition to boost his financial situation, is progressively surrendering to Grillo’s strong desire to accomplish his daughter Serafina’s caprice to marry Tino. Raffaele is even more delighted by the perspective of another marriage between the two families which is in danger of being compromised should Tino fail to marry Serafina. As the plot unfolds between departures and sudden reunifications, more trickeries and unexpected tragedies, Tino finally makes the decision to return to London and with the help of his friends start a new life in Wales. The conspiracy which inevitably divides the family on many fronts is transformed in a tale of love and loss, aspirations and regrets. These themes are enriched by the parallel and intertwined tale of emigration which complicates things, and engages the reader in a deeper reflection over the role of family and the difficult dialogue between generations. In her novel, Arcari represents the way in which migrant identity is shaped by internal factors such as family but also external factors such as war. Various degrees of nostalgia, sense of belonging, fears and hopes are constantly debated and renegotiated.

The book is available on www.amazon.co.uk

Read more about the author's notes:

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/showbiz-and-lifestyle/books-in-wales/book-of-the-year/book-of-the-year-news/2011/04/16/author-s-notes-anita-arcari-91466-28521597/ 

 

Anita Arcari's presentation 

 

 
 
   
Anita Arcari
 

Why do I write? I write because I have always written.  As far back as I can remember,  I have been fascinated by the written word, drawn like a moth to a candle. Even as a small child, some of my first memories are of extreme frustration at not being able to do what my older siblings did – read and write.

I was fortunate that my father held great store by education and if we showed potential in any field, or a talent, he would encourage and nurture it.

                It was not unexpected, in some ways.  My father had grown up in Wales, having been brought here as a baby by his Italian parents, from their home village of Picinisco, high in the mountains of the Mezzogiorno region of Italy and had married a local Welsh girl.  The Arcari family had lived there for many generations, at least since the 1500s, which is as far back as records have allowed us to research. The Arcari’s were relatively affluent contadini  or  farmers, but as with all extending families, sooner or later the land becomes too small to support their ever-growing numbers.  In the same way as many of his Italian contemporaries in the late 1800s and early 1900s, my grandfather and his family came to this country in search of a better  lifestyle, to see for himself the streets that were said to be ‘paved with gold’. The reality was very different.

                He soon realized that money was no easier to come by in this country than in Italy, but undeterred and forever entrepreneurial, he began his life on the streets of Dover as a one-man-band, then progressed to organ-grinding, saving every spare penny to plough into his dreams of one day owing his own business. Later, he went into the ice-cream business, selling at first from a handcart on Whitstable beach. When he had saved enough money, he moved into a small café in Morriston, near Swansea, where his sister, brother-in-law and their family lived.  Loved and respected by the local people, the Pompa family already had a thriving and established café in the area. Sadly, in later years, Ferdinando Pompa became one of the tragic statistics of the sinking of the Arandora  Star.  Around eight years or so after arriving in Wales, the Arcari family moved from their Morriston premises to a café in High Street, Swansea, near the railway station, where they ran a popular and successful ice cream cafe for many years.

                It was this wonderfully rich Welsh-Italian heritage that inspired my first published novel, ‘The Hokey Pokey Man’, which is based on real events although the storyline itself is pure fiction. I have always felt privileged to have had a Welsh-Italian background and wanted to share some of the experiences with a wider audience.  The novel was very well received by the public and had some acclaim, reaching No 3 in the Waterstone’s charts and becoming a best-seller for the publisher.  I have enjoyed immensely the numerous book-signings and other events at which I have been asked to speak.  It is wonderful to meet people who either have a similar background or an interest in the subject area.

                My second novel, ‘Penny Farthing’, although not a sequel to ‘The Hokey Pokey Man’, is in the same genre.  Penny Farthing is a young girl whose life is central to the novel.  The story is set in a different time period from my debut novel, and does not cover such a wide time span.  It is set in the East side of Swansea, where the daily lives of three families, including Penny’s and Lui Rinaldi, an Italian café owner, form the setting for the story. The story later shifts to Henllan, where many Italian prisoners-of war were based.  (See synopsis)

                I am presently working on the third novel, which is a direct sequel to ‘Penny Farthing’.  I have plans for many others, though the main obstacle at the moment is time, as I am also a full-time lecturer. However, I cannot imagine a life without writing. It is something I have always done, and something I will continue to do as long as I can type or hold a pen. I cannot imagine life without it.

 

Anita Arcari  © 2012

 

 Penny Farthing (forthcoming)

 

Synopsis, by Anita Arcari

 

It is Christmas 1928 and Britain is held in the grip of deep Depression, following the collapse of the world banks. Penny is the young daughter of an outwardly respectable family on the East side of Swansea, but all is not what it seems.  Penny’s father, George Farthing, is a pillar of the community, a well-known and respected lay preacher.  But hidden behind the mask of upright Christianity, the real character is far removed from anything that is decent or honest.  Beneath the facade, George is a cruel, hypocritical man who abuses his family and spends much of his time with other women. 

                Pretty, red-haired Penny has two special friends, Lucia and Elaine, both hated and despised by George Farthing, for very different reasons.    Lucia Rinaldi is the beloved figlia, or daughter, of affluent café owner Lui, who came from Italy many years before to live and work in the close-knit Welsh community.  Elaine Evans has her own dark secrets, and in her shame and despair, she longs to escape the filthy depravity of her home life.

As the three girls blossom into womanhood and discover the joys of love, the nation heads towards World War II and their lives become inextricably bound by a series of tragic and fateful events  over which they have no control. 

In an attempt to escape the heart wrenching memories of the past, they join the Women’s Land Army where they find themselves working on a farm, alongside Italian prisoners of war in the tiny village of Henllan.  But soon, their past catches up with them and tragedy strikes again. Will they ever find the happiness and peace they long for?


HECTOR EMMANUELLI

A Sense of Belonging: From the Rhondda to the Potteries: Memories of a Welsh-Italian Englishman (2010)

 
 
An overview by Bruna Chezzi
 
The title of this book is self-explanatory. Emmanuelli embodies three identities. As for his Italianness, the fact he was the ‘son Italian parents’ makes him automatically Italian, suggesting a typically traditional Italian upbringing (‘I remember feeling very much like an Italian among the Welsh’). Emanuelli boasts of this Italianness with pride throughout the course of his account. On the other hand, his Welshness comes through during his visits to Bardi, Italy, as he becomes or, perhaps he is made to become, aware of being ‘different’ (‘with my Oxo cup and Welsh accent, I felt like a little Welshman’). Equally, his Welshness is also perceived and pulled out by his English friends (‘my schoolmates made me feel like a Welshman among the English’). On the contrary, his Englishness is understated and simply implied due to his relocation to England. This shows how identity, location and society are interrelated and the fact that, in Woodward’s words, “identity gives us the location in the world and presents the link between us and society”*.

 

 

* Kathryn Woodward, Questioning Identity: Gender, Class, Nation (London: Routledge, 2000), p.1.


ROGER GRANELLI
 
A selection of published novels by Granelli
 
         Crystal Spirit cover    
For more information about these novels and the author, please visit his website: http://www.rogergranelli.com/index.htm
 
Roger Granelli has very kindly agreed to write about his Welsh Italian origins specifically for this website:
I am a third generation Welsh/Italian. My grandfather, Varino Granelli came to Wales in the 1890's and settled in Pontypridd. In the tradition of early Italian immigrants he was from the Bardi area of Italy and did push an ice cream cart around the town. This was before Italian cafes were well established in Pontypridd, but Varino did not stay in the ice cream business and never entered the world of the Italian cafe. Probably a big mistake!. Varino married a girl from Merthyr, Maria Lynch, who was of Irish/Italian descent, her Irish forbears originally coming from Kinsale in southern Ireland and the Italian side of her family were Galeozzis. They settled in Pontypridd and had twelve children, all of whom survived and lived long and satisfying lives. John and Harold, in their late eighties, are the two surviving offspring and both are still well and active. My father, Louis ( Luigi) was the oldest boy.
                           I have been a professional musician most of my adult life, playing all contemporary styles but specialising in blues, jazz and world music. I have worked throughout Europe and the USA, ( but never Italy unfortunately). Please see my website rogergranelli.com for full details on this and to download samples of my work. I am also a novelist, having written eight published novels in the last twenty years. I am a traditional writer, dealing with social realism and setting my books from the 1930's to modern times. All my books are described in detail on the website.
                         I am proud of my Italian/Welsh background, and this has increased as I have grown older and more aware of it. Unfortunately, like so many Welsh children of Italian ancestry, the Italian language was not passed on to my two sisters and me from our grandparents, and despite, speaking some French, Spanish and Welsh I still cannot speak much Italian. i hope to achieve this by the time I retire.
                                                                                                                                                                                            (Roger Granelli, June 2012).
 
Granelli is an acclaimed novelist who has been awarded a number of writing prizes from the Welsh Arts Council. In  1999, he was also a prize Winner in the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition. The following abstract is from his best known book, Cristal Spirit:
 
 

At the age of seven David smelt death for the first time. He felt the panic and fear it brought, and savoured its excitement with a heart free of the future. He enjoyed it. David witnessed the aftermath of a mining accident, a small affair, three men killed in a roof fall, a dozen others with smashed limbs. it was the second week of the summer holidays, and already he was bored with freedom, the grey weather, and the lack of friends.

He had wandered after his mother to the pithead, in defiance of her strict orders. The doleful shriek of the pit's whistle pulled the women from their kitchens with its promise of bad news; they were honed by its regular stabs at their lives. David could not resist it wither. He hid behind a wall, and saw his mother there, one of a frenzied, milling crowd of women, half-crazy with fear, and desperate with hope. They held each other, as if they shared one collective heart, and comforted each other with words, and every woman wanted it to be someone else's man. David watched as they brought up the bodies, inert crumpled mounds, covered in coal sacks. There had been no explosion, and no gas. Knowing this, the crowd settled itself for a lesser mourning. (page 1)

 
 RON PAGE
Ron Page is a retired barrister, born in the Uk of Irish Italian descent.
In recent years he has published three books, one non fiction and two novels. The non-fiction book was the Cartoon Cookbook for Men. Since then he has penned two exciting thrillers. Passional and Alligator Tears
In these thrillers, Ron has used his experience as a barrister and his knowledge of Forensic Science to provide a powerful mixture of crime and passion. His thrillers are based on his family history and his travels in America. They are characterised by sharp plotting, powerful narratives and deep emotions with ordinary people finding themselves involved in nightmare situations.  
Ron is now writing a third thriller and a series of childrens books based on a deserted castle in Wales.
 
   
Passional is a story set in Italy. A happily married man Tom Payne while travelling to find distant relatives in the small Tuscany village Barga. While travelling he meets a beautiful young woman. He finds it difficult to resist her beauty and starts an affair with her when he meets her later. When her husband is murdered Tom becomes the number one suspect and is charged. Tom admits being in the house at the time that the murder is committed but has no recollection of the crime. Did he commit the murder? This story is a mixture of sex, murder and intrigue and contains elements of the author's family history.
 
  
 
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