Thank you for being here with us Marianna! First of all, I'd like to talk about your first book, Given Away, A Sicilian Upbringing, a novel based in Italy. What inspired you to write this book?
Thank you for the opportunity to speak about my novel.
For many years I heard my mother tell warm, loving stories about her parents and about her life in Sicily. Although she was the oldest of five siblings, her stories never seemed to include her sister Tina who was only thirteen months younger than she was.
When I questioned her about her sister, she simply said, "Tina wasn't living with us, she was staying with an aunt in another town.Although it seemed strange, I never insisted on knowing why. I could see it was a difficult subject.
As I grew older, I heard my aunt speak about how unhappy she was as a child. "Your mother and I lead very different lives in Sicily," she would say. I could see that many things about her past tormented her over the years.
When I retired from teaching, I decided to pursue my second love, writing. On Mother's Day of 2010, I offered to write Tina's story. I believe I made her the happiest woman that day.
After almost three years of interviews and research, the book was complete.
This book shares very strong themes; WWII, the Fascism and the poverty we Italians experienced in those years. It offers to the American readers a full pictures of the Italian climate at the Was time. Why did you decide to share sich a strong story withh your readers?
These were the times my parents grew up in, the shadow of Fascism. My grandfather was a proud card-carrying fascist. Although I didn't know my grandfather, I know that Mussolini brought great promises and hope to the Italian people. An illusion that was quickly shattered as war devastated the nation.
I wrote this story to applaud and remember the men and women of that generation. Also, for young people to understand the sacrifices that were made for the opportunities that are available to them now, in Italy as well as in America.
Could you tell us more about Tina, the main character of the novel?
Tina was a child of miserable circumstances. Yet, at no time does she consider herself a victim. Like many children of unhealthy environments, she learns to endure, forgive and move forward. Tina's account of life in Sicily, during the German Occupation brings events of the Second World War to life through the eyes of a young child.
Tina's war story begins on the day she arrives at school and finds her desks, chairs and books tossed onto the streets. Intimidating German soldiers paint all the windows purple and occupy her school. Her education is disrupted and the difficult life she was leading becomes even more painful and arduous. Her escapes to caves for shelter, secret missions during the night for bread, dodging planes flying overhead, her harassment from German soldiers are all recollections of her childhood and provide an account of her life set against the backdrop of war.
Tina is a survivor. She is able to forgive those who took so much away from her. Her spirit trumps over adversity. As she grows older, she struggles to keep the harsh realities of World War II and abandonment at a distance through her sense of humor, imagination and determination.
Marianna, as your name suggests, you're half Italian; What does "being half Italian" means in the USA? Did it influence your life in some way?
I am an Italian- American. My mother was born in Ragusa and my father was born in NYC after his parents migrated from Ragusa Ibla. My father did not speak English until he went to grade school, yet he managed to make it to Columbia University. I had the best of both worlds. In America, my parents kept our culture alive by teaching my brothers and me the language and practicing the rituals of an Italian life. We were also fortunate enough to make trips back to Italy to reunite with extended family.
As a child I would spend months in Marina di Ragusa, living with our great- aunt and her son the Monsignor. They had a church in their house. As an adult, my family visited Italy as tourists, Rome, Capri, Pompeii. All lovely, but give me Marina di Ragusa any day.
Why is your book is considered a novel?
Although Given Away was inspired by true events, there were certain questions that just could not be answered. Therefore, I took everything I learned and spun it into the realistic, inspirational drama that I believe it was meant to be.
Usually Americans love Italians and all that is Italian. What's the reason for this in your opinion?
Great food, warm hearts and big personalities!
Thank you Marianna!
You can see Marianna novel's preview at
buy the book here
or visit Marianna's Website at http://mariannarandazzo.com
Source: The Italian Bridge
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