Born in Rome in 1955, though with proud connections to her family origins in Umbria, Romana Petri today lives between the Italian capital and Lisbon. Petri has been classed by critics as one of the pre-eminent contemporary Italian female writers. Starting out as a secondary school teacher of French in Rome, Petri went on to work in the areas of literary criticism and translation (notably of works on the French Renaissance) and has been a regular contributor (frequently on women’s issues) to various newspapers and journals, among them L’Unità, La Stampa, Il Messaggero, Nuovi Argomenti and Leggere, as well as collaborating on cultural programmes for RAI. Her first collection of short stories, Il gambero blu e altri racconti, came out in 1990, while her novel Figli dello stesso padre was published in 2013.
Today, Petri focuses on writing and publishing, and is co-founder of the Rome-based publishers Cavallo di ferro (bringing prevalently Italian translations of Portuguese-language literature to an Italian readership along with Italian contemporary literature based in/on Latin America), twin to the Lisbon-basedCavalo de Ferro where her work was first released in Portuguese. Exhibiting a special affection for the Azores, she has repeatedly written about the island archipelago in travel writing and (sometimes magic realist) fiction, while her attachment to South America, namely Brazil and Argentina, pervades her more recent novels. Tutta la vita (2011), for example, is an Italian emigrant saga-like perspective on the 1950s-1970s Argentinean political debacle – a sequel to Alle Case Venie (1997) – but it is a fine novel in its own right. Her work has been translated into French, English, Dutch, German and Portuguese and she has won numerous literary prizes, such as the Premio Mondello and the Premio Grinzane Cavour, as well as reaching the Premio Strega finals and winning the Premio Rapallo-Carige with Alle Case Venie. One of her most successful short story collections, La donna delle Azzorre, has been made into a Portuguese television series.
Extract from the article by David Albert Best on the website of The Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women's Writing, Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London. Published here with the author's consent. Original article accessed on 2nd February 2016.
1990 - Il gambero blu e altri racconti
1991 - Il ritratto del disarmo
1993 - Il baleniere delle montagne
1995 - L’antierotico
1997 - Alle Case Venie – An Umbrian War, translated by Sharon Wood (2000)
1999 - I padri degli altri – Other People’s Fathers, translated by Avril Bardoni (2001)
2001 - La donna delle Azzorre – The Flying Islands, translated by Sharon Wood (2002)
2002 - Dagoberto Babilonio, un destino
2005 - Esecuzioni
2007 - Ovunque io sia
2010 - Ti spiego
2011 - Tutta la vita
2013 - Figli dello stesso padre
2014 - Giorni di spasimato amore