The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories

The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories

by Jhumpa Lahiri (Editor)


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A landmark collection of stories-nearly half appearing in English for the first time—selected and introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri

A Penguin Classic

When Jhumpa Lahiri decided to read exclusively in Italian, a language she had studied for many years, her life as a reader—and writer—took a surprising turn. Complete immersion in this rich literary heritage brought fresh insight and unexpected freedom.

This collection brings together forty writers who have shaped her love of the Italian language and profound appreciation for its literature. More than half of the stories featured in this volume have been translated into English for the first time, and the wide-ranging selection includes well-known authors such as Italo Calvino, Elsa Morante, and Luigi Pirandello alongside many captivating rediscoveries.

Poets, journalists, visual artists, musicians, editors, critics, teachers, scientists, politicians, translators: the writers that inhabit these pages represent a dynamic cross-section of Italian society. Together they reflect more than a hundred years of Italy's vibrant and diverse short-story tradition, their powerful voices resonating through regional landscapes, private passions, and the dramatic political events of the twentieth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780241299852
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/15/2020
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 116,197
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Jhumpa Lahiri is the author of four works of fiction: Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth, and The Lowland, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, and the National Book Award. She has received numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize; the PEN/Hemingway Award; the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award; the Premio Gregor von Rezzori; the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature; a 2014 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama; and the Premio Internazionale Viareggio-Versilia for In Other Words, her memoir about learning Italian. She was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award for Translated Literature for her translation from the Italian of Domenico Starnone's novel Trick.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

London, England


B.A., Barnard College; M.A., Ph.D., Boston University

Read an Excerpt


Introduction by Jhumpa Lahiri
A Note on the Citation of Titles and Their Translations 

   • “
Names and Tears” by Elio Vittorini
   • “Picturesque Lives” by Giovanni Verga
   • “The Siren” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
   • “Against Time” by Antonio Tabucchi
   • “Generous Wine” by Italo Svevo
   • “The Long Voyage” by Leonardo Sciasci
• “Bago” by Alberto Savinio 
   • “The Hen” by Umberto Saba
   • “The Lady” by Lalla Romano
   • “The Tower” by Fabrizia Ramondino
   • “The Trap” by Luigi Pirandello
   • “Wedding Trip” by Cesare Pavese
   • “Melancholy” by Goffredo Parise
   • “Silence” by Aldo Palazzeschi
  • “A Pair of Eye/glasses” by Anna Maria Ortese
   • “The Other Side of the Moon” by Alberto Moravia
   • “The Ambitious Ones” by Elsa Morante
   • “Sixteen, Twenty-one, Twenty-eight and Thirty-seven” from Centuria by Giorgio Manganelli
   • “Quaestio de Centauris” by Primo Levi
   • “Gogol’s Wife” by Tommaso Landolfi
   • “My Husband” by Natalia Ginzburg
   • “The Mother” by Carlo Emilio Gadda
   • “A Martian in Rome” by Ennio Flaiano
   • “The Smell of Death” by Beppe Fenoglio
   • “Life as a Couple” by Luce D’Eramo
   • “The Milliner” by Antonio Delfini
   • “The Hind” by Grazia Deledda
   • “Invitation to Dinner” by Alba de Céspedes
   • “Elegy for Signora Nodier” by Silvio D’Arzo
   • “Malpasso” by Fausta Cialente
   • “At the Station” by Carlo Cassola
   • “The Golden Nut” by Cristina Campo
   • “Dialogue with a Tortoise” by Italo Calvino
   • “And Yet They Are Knocking at Your Door” by Dino Buzzati
   • “The Miraculous Beach, or, Prize for Modesty” by Massimo Bontempelli
   • “A Geographical Error” by Romano Bilenchi
   • “The Streetwalker” by Luciano Bianciardi
   • “Miss” by Anna Banti
   • “The Baboon” by Giovanni Arpino
   • “Barefoot” by Corrado Alvaro

Further Reading
About the Translators

Table of Contents

Introduction Jhumpa Lahiri ix

A Note on the Citation of Titles and Their Translations xxiii

Name and Tears Elio Vittorini 3

Picturesque Lives Giovanni Verga 9

The Siren Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa 19

Against Time Antonio Tabucchi 45

Generous Wine Italo Svevo 57

The Long Voyage Leonardo Sciascia 75

Bago Alberto Savinio 83

The Hen Umberto Saba 91

The Lady Lalla Romano 101

The Tower Fabrizia Ramondino 113

The Trap Luigi Pirandello 125

Wedding Trip Cesare Pavese 135

Melancholy Goffredo Parise 151

Silence Aldo Palazzeschi 159

A Pair of Eyeglasses Anna Maria Ortese 173

The Other Side of the Moon Alberto Moravia 191

The Ambitious Ones Elsa Morante 199

Sixteen, Twenty-one, Twenty-eight and Thirty-seven from Centuria Giorgio Manganelli 209

Quaestio de Centauris Primo Levi 217

Gogol's Wife Tommaso Landolfi 231

My Husband Natalia Ginzburg 245

The Mother Carlo Emilio Gadda 261

A Martian in Rome Ennio Flaiano 275

The Smell of Death Beppe Fenoglio 289

Life as a Couple Luce D'Eramo 299

The Milliner Antonio Delfini 309

The Hind Grazia Deledda 317

Invitation to Dinner Alba De Céspedes 327

Elegy for Signora Nodier Silvio D'Arzo 337

Malpasso Fausta Cialente 347

At the Station Carlo Cassola 355

The Golden Nut Cristina Campo 361

Dialogue with a Tortoise Italo Calvino 375

And Yet They Are Knocking at Your Door Dino Buzzati 381

The Miraculous Beach, or, Prize for Modesty Massimo Bontempelli 395

A Geographical Error Romano Bilenchi 403

The Streetwalker Luciano Bianciardi 415

Miss Anna Banti 435

The Baboon Giovanni Arpino 449

Barefoot Corrado Alvaro 457

Notes 463

Chronology 467

Further Reading 479

Acknowledgements 481

Copyright Information 485

About the Translators 491

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