The story of the Strega Prize starts in 1944, when Maria and Goffredo Bellonci decide to host a literary salon at their home in Rome. These Sunday meetings of writers, artists and intellectuals grow to include many of the most important figures of Italian cultural life. The group become known as the Amici della Domenica, meaning ‘Sunday Friends’. Then, in 1947 Maria and Goffredo with Guido Alberti, owner of the company that produces the Strega liqueur, inaugurate a prize for fiction, the winner being chosen by the Sunday friends.
About past winners
Among those past winners who are now pillars of Italinan Literature we count: L’isola di Arturo (Arturo’s Island) by Elsa Morante in 1957, Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa in 1959, Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose) by Umberto Eco in 1981 e Lessico Famigliare (Family Sayings) by Natalia Ginzburg in 1963.
Last year the winner was the beautiful novel Le Otto Montagne (The Eight Mountains) by Paolo Cognetti, that we reviewed here.
The selection process
The prize is won by the author of a novel published between April 1 of the previous year and March 31 of the current year. The selection process is lead by a group of 400 intellectuals, including the past winners. There are three selection moments: first are chosen the participating 12 books, second 5 finalists are shortlisted and third the winner.
The finalists 2018
Yesterday June 13 2018 the jury shortlisted the 5 finalists. Here they are with the relative votes:
Helena Janeczek, La ragazza con la Leica (The girl with the Leica), Guanda with 256
the story of Gerda Taro, the German photographer who died one the field documenting Spanish civil war and who together with André Friedman invented Robert Capa. Read the full review.
Marco Balzano, Resto qui (I’ll stay here), Einaudi with 243
the tale of a catastrophe that was the final chapter of a linguistic, ethnic, cultural and moral persecution against a group of people speaking a different language.
Sandra Petrignani, La corsara (The Corsair). Ritratto di Natalia Ginzburg, Neri Pozza con 200
the story of the great sicilian writer Natalia Ginzburg outlining her nonconformist life among her literary activity and her civic engagement. .
Lia Levi, Questa sera è già domani (This night is tomorrow), Edizioni e/o con 173
Lia Levi describe the story of a Jewish family living in Genova during the tragical period of the Italian Racial Laws.
Carlo D’Amicis, Il gioco (The game), Mondadori con 151
A love triangle and erotic game describing bodies and physicality while talking about soul and intimacy.
The favourite candidate seems to be “La Ragazza con la Leica“ by Janeczek, but who knows… It will be the second voting to choose the winner of LXXII edition: it will occur on July 5 as usual at the Etruscan National Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome.