“Trinacria” – At Long Last! … A Southern-Italian American (Pre-Ellis Island) Historic Novel … and High-Brow Literature ‘To Boot’
This blog has persistently and repeatedly documented the FACT that the pre-Ellis Island history and culture of near seventeen million Americans of southern-Italian decent is virtually non-existent in universities, high and low-brow literature, film and television – with the exception of the Mafia.---Southern-Italian Americans are systematically led to believe that their history and culture is either rooted in northern Italy (which is categorically and unequivocally NOT TRUE! – northern Italy is a ‘foreign’ historic culture vis-a-vis the South), or that southern-Italians have no pre-Ellis Island history with the exception of the Mafia. --- In 2011, John Domini made a significant break with this distorted view of northern roots and myopic post-Ellis Island historiography, in his novel “Tomb on the Periphery”; where the discovery of an ancient Greek tomb drives a contemporary plot. Tacitly, he tells American readers there is much much more to Neapolitan history and culture than New York’s San Gennaro Festival. --- On the heels of Domini’s book, in 2012, what I would subjectively judge, a significant event occurred in the cultural history of southern-Italian Americana. Susan Russo Anderson was painting a picture of the Lower East Side, the landmark immigrant neighborhood in Manhattan, when (dare I say Athena visited her) she decided to stop painting and turned to writing “Death of a Serpent”, a mystery story set in 1860s Sicily. --- This low-brow ‘gum-shoe’ novel is what I would call a prototype historic novel. It is not true historic fiction in the sense of Sir Walter Scott (“Ivanhoe”), James Fenimore Cooper (“Last of Mohicans”), Manzoni (“The Betrothed’), etc. However, “Death of a Serpent” along with “Tomb on the Periphery” may be seen as a foretelling’s of the coming, in 2013, of the full-blown high-brow pre-Ellis Island southern-Italian American historic novel – “Trinacria”. The closeness in time, of these three very different novels by very different writers, yet all having a common historic South of Rome context, may suggest the birthing of a southern-Italian Americana pre-Ellis Island Patria Meridionale consciousness.