The Italia Reading Challenge – Completed!

I have completed the Italia Reading Challenge, which was a challenge for me to read books by Italian authors throughout the year 2022. I would like to thank Emma from Book Around the Corner for contributing to this challenge and the first two books in the selection above are her review contributions. The challenge covered such diverse genres as literary fiction (Pavese), historical fiction (Bassani), play (Pirandello), non-fiction (Angela), short story (Buzzati) and memoir/poetry (Dante), as well as authors born in such diverse regions of Italy as Sardinia (Pulixi), Veneto (Buzzati), Piedmont (Pavese), Lazio (Rome) (Morante), Tuscany (Florence) (Dante), Varese (Fo), and Sicily (Pirandello).

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Review: Catastrophe & Other Stories by Dino Buzzati

Catastrophe & Other Stories [1965] – ★★★★

This short story collection is from one of the most inventive minds of Italy – writer and poet Dino Buzzati (1906 – 1972). I liked this collection more than the one I read last year – Buzzati’s The Siren: A Selection of Short Stories. In Catastrophe & Other Stories, there are twenty stories overall, but I am reviewing only five below. Though this collection is a bit of a mixed bag, it is definitely worth a read, especially for those into absurdist, existentialist or Kafkaesque fiction.

I. Seven Floors – ★★★★★

This is the best story in the collection, in my opinion. In it, one Giuseppe Corte enters one unusual sanatorium and desperately wants to remain on its top floor – the seventh, but circumstances are not in his favour. Why such a desire? It so happens that this medical establishment is designed in such a way that its top floors are reserved for mild cases, and the further down you go, the more serious cases you encounter until eventually you hit floor one where the hopeless dying “convalesce”. One hero is soon torn by a dilemma: he does not want to be a serious medical case, but the lower floors also have better medical equipment and more knowledgeable doctors and nurses. What does one do? Seven Floors is a fine example of a purely Kafkaesque terror, and the story can also be viewed as a satire on illness, diagnosis, hypochondria, and medical establishment.

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