de Luca, Erri 1950-
de LUCA, Erri 1950-
Born 1950 in Naples, Italy.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Penguin Putnam, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
Writer, journalist, and translator. Has worked variously as a mason, construction laborer, and truck driver.
Non ora, non qui, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1989.
Una nuvola come tappeto (title means "A Cloud Like Carpet"), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1991.
Aceto, Acrobaleno (title means "Acid, Rainbow"), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1992.
In also a sinistra, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1994.
Alzaia, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1997.
Ora Prima, Qiqajon-Comunita di Bose (Magnano, Italy), 1997.
Come noi coi fantasmi: lettre sull'anno sessantorttesimo del secolo tra due che erano giovani in tempo, Bompiana (Milan, Italy), 1998.
Tu, mio (title means "You, Mine"), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy, 1998), published as Sea of Memory, translated by Beth Archer Brombert, Ecco Press (Hopewell, NJ), 1999.
Tre cavalli (title means "Three Horses"), Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1999.
Altre prove di riposta, Libreria Dante & Descartes (Naples, Italy), 2000.
Montedidio, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 2001.
Un papavero rosso all'occhielo senza coglierne il fiore, Circolo Culturale Menocchio (Monreala Valcellina, Italy), 2001.
Fresques, la sagacité dans l'attente rend une belle mémoire = Affreschi, la sagacia nell'attesa rende una bella memoria, Parenthèses (Marseille, France), 2002.
Opera sull'acqua e altre poesie, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 2002.
Contributor to newspapers and periodicals, including Mattino, Evening Courier, and Manifest.
Erri de Luca was born in Naples, Italy, in 1950, and grew up in a middle-class family, wrote a biographer on the Editions Verdier Web site. Much of de Luca's career has been spent in the manual trades throughout France, Africa, and Italy, where he drove trucks and worked as a laborer on construction projects. De Luca has also worked as a truck driver for humanitarian organizations in Bosnia.
De Luca grew up as a "difficult child and introvert," wrote a biographer on the Mondolibri Web site. He developed a love of books early in life, and read widely in his father's collection. In adolescence, he became involved with a number of political organizations, and was the leader of the group Continuous Struggle in Rome during the 1970s. He later served as a volunteer in a number of humanitarian organizations in Africa, Bosnia, and elsewhere. Waiting to depart before a particular trip to Africa, de Luca explored the only book available in his room: an edition of The Bible. His experience inspired him to learn Hebrew on his own so that he could read the stories in their original language. He later translated several books of the Old Testament into Italian.
De Luca is the author of more than a dozen books, written primarily in Italian. Two English versions of his work, Sea of Memory and God's Mountain, have caught the attention of American reviewers. The first, Sea of Memory, is the story of the relationship between an Italian boy and a Jewish girl during a single summer in the 1950s on an island off Italy's coast. The narrator, who is never named, spends his summers helping his uncle and a World War II veteran named Nicola on their fishing boat. Usually content with working the nets and learning about the sea, the narrator finds himself drawn to a young woman named Caia. Secretive about her past, the narrator eventually learns that Caia is an orphan, and a Jewish refugee from the Nazi purge that destroyed her family. Caia is at first angry that her secret has been discovered, but she soon becomes involved with the narrator in an almost metaphysical parent-child relationship. Caia begins to believe that the narrator is the reincarnation of her father, and he becomes her protector and avenger. Lucy Ferriss, writing in New York Times Book Review, called Sea of Memory a "lyrical but strangely ominous novella" and a "poetic novel charged with anger and desire." A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that the reincarnation motif and "the psychic bits hinder what is otherwise an alluring and poignant story about an adolescent in love, in search of himself and of history." A Kirkus Reviews critic, however, called the book "An understated, delicate—and believable—story of adolescence, history, and war."
God's Mountain is "another symbolic tale of adolescence," wrote a Kirkus Reviews critic. Written in a diary style, the book explores the eventful months after the narrator turns thirteen, when he finds his first job as apprentice to Errico, a cabinet maker; finishes school; falls in love; and watches helplessly as his mother becomes ill and inexorably dies. Errico allows humpbacked cobbler Rafaniello to use a corner of his shop, where Rafaniello repairs the shoes of the poor and waits for the "wings" in his hump to hatch and allow him to fly to Jerusalem. When he's not working, the boy practices throwing his boomerang, a gift from his father, although he doesn't dare let the boomerang go in the crowded, almost claustrophobic streets of Montedidio, the God's Mountain of the book's title. The narrator attracts the attention of Maria, a girl his own age who has kept her family from eviction through sexual favors to the landlord. Their newfound love for each other brings about profound changes in each "on New Year's Eve, when things happen, or seem to, that bring all to a hopeful and lovely close," wrote the Kirkus Reviews critic. Gillian Engberg, writing in Booklist, found the story "More impressionistic than linear," and called it a "haunting, atmospheric novel that muses on religion, language, community, and what it means to be an adult," in a rough setting where childhood is often short.
"While little new ground is covered," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "the book is effective in its poignant immediacy, as the narrator bears the rigors of a lonely and tragic coming of age." God's Mountain is a "holiday tale of wondrously humble miracles without once becoming saccharine," the Kirkus Reviews critic wrote. "Lovely indeed."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of God's Mountain, p. 731.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1999, review of Sea of Memory, p. 816; October 15, 2002, review of God's Mountain, p. 1491.
New York Times Book Review, August 29, 1999, Lucy Ferriss, review of Sea of Memory, p. 19.
Publishers Weekly, July 5, 1999, review of Sea of Memory, p. 59; December 9, 2002, review of God's Mountain, p. 63.
World Literature Today, spring, 2000, review of Sea of Memory, p. 429; autumn, 2000, Giovanni d'Angelo, review of Tre cavalli, p. 871.
Editions Verdier,http://www.editions-verdier.fr/ (April 3, 2003), biography of Erri de Luca.
Mondolibri,http://www.mondolibri.it/ (April 3, 2003), biography of Erri de Luca.*