Gianni Celati is one of Italy’s most successful contemporary writers. He has been awarded various prizes both in Italy and abroad. His work is extremely descriptive yet his minimalist nature allows him to capture scenes, smells and sounds in a realistic and vivid manner. His stories are humorous and entertaining as well as being informative. Even though he is an internationally acclaimed writer he still remains an incredibly down to earth and modest person.
He was born in Sondrio,(Lombardia) in 1937. He studied Anglo-American literature at the University of Bologna.
Before becoming a writer/essayist he worked as a translator where he translated various works of authors such as, Celine, Melville, Stendhal, Swift, Twain, London, Barthes and Holderlin. In 1966 whilst working as a translator one of his short stories was published in a literary journal. When Italo Calvino came across it he recognised Celati’s talent and soon after he was given a job working for the Einaudi publishing house where Italo Calvino worked as a company director.
His first book Comiche was published in 1970 after this he went on to write a series of novels and short stories. However it was his novel Lunario dal paradiso published in 1970, which enabled him to become known internationally. In 1975 he became a professor of American and English literature at the University of Bologna. In the early 80’s he began to write non-fictional novels about travel and film documentaries. His inovative literary study Finzioni Occidentali showed him to be an original essayist. He even tried his hand at directing in 1991, when he directed Strada Provinciale delle Anime (The main roads of the soul).
Avventure in Africa 1998(Adventures in Africa) won him the zerilli-marimo prize for Italian fiction
award in 1999. This novel is a diary of his visit to Africa in 97 where he liased with the Dogon people. Throughout the novel he meets various people from different countries where despite his knowledge of french and English he is faced with the inadequacy of language as a medium for communication.
In 2001 he received 2 awards for his book Cinema Naturale (Natural cinema) these were the Premio Clara and the Premio della Giuria.
In 2000 the Toronto University press Gianni Celati, The Craft of Everyday Storytelling published by Rebecca West based on Gianni Celati and his work during the last thirty years as a writer, translator and essayist.
Gianni Celati is now currently working as a professor of Italian studies in the UK
His published novels include:
Comiche (Comedies) 1970
Avventure di Guizzardi(Guizzardi’s Adventures) 1972
Finzioni Occidentali: Fabulazione, comicità, scrittura (Western Pretences) 1975
Il Chiodo in Testa (The nail in the lead)1975
La Banda dei Sospiri (Group of sighs) 1976
Lunario del Paradiso (Paradises almanac) 1978
Naratture delle pianure(Voices from the plains) 1985,
Quattro Novelle sulle Apparenze ( Four novels about appearences) 1987
Verso la Foce(towards the mouth) 1989
Orlando innamorato Raccontato in Prosa ( Orlando in love in Prose) 1994
Recita dell’attore vecchiato (Performance of an ageing actor) 1996
Avventure in Africa
(Adventures in Africa) 1998
Cinema Naturale (Natural cinema) 2001
Some of his available translated works are:
Appearances translated by Stuart Hood, 1992.
Voices from the plains translated by Robert Lumley,1990
Adventures in Africa translated by Adria Barnardi and Rebecca West, 2000
The English language version of Verso la Foce is due out soon.
I'm afraid my WU doesn't do him any justice but if you do come across any of his work, I can guarantee it will be a fantastic read :)