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May, 2015

4May7:00 pm- 9:00 pmAndré Naffis-Sahely's translation of Alessandro Spina's colonial epic30 West 12 Street, New York, NY 100117:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Event Details

André Naffis-Sahely will discuss the work of Alessandro Spina (1927-2013), a Syrian Maronite born in Benghazi who wrote in Italian. Spina received the Bagutta Prize in 2007 for his 1280 page opus The Confines of the Shadow (I confini dell’ombra), a cycle of 11 novels and short story collections that chart the history of Libya from 1912, when Italy invaded the former Ottoman province, to the commercial exploitation of oil reserves in the 1960s. The first volume of Naffis-Sahely’s three-part translation of Spina’s epic, comprising the novels The Young Maronite, The Marriage of Omar and The Nocturnal Visitor, will be published in June 2015. Spina’s saga begins in November 1912 with The Young Maronite, which sees Italian soldiers solidifying their control over Libya’s coasts, leaving the Libyan rebels to withdraw to the desert and prepare for a guerrilla war that would last until 1931, when by dint of sheer brutality, including the internment of tens of thousands of civilians in concentration camps, the Italians crushed the rebellion and murdered its widely respected leader, Omar al-Mukhtar. Distinguishing itself by its intimate understanding of East and West, The Confines of the Shadow is among the most significant achievements of 20th century fiction and stand unchallenged as the only multi-generational epic about the European experience in North Africa.

About the translator

André Naffis-Sahely’s poetry was most recently featured in The Best British Poetry 2014 and the Oxford Poets Anthology 2013. His translations from the French and the Italian include Balzac’s The Physiology of the Employee and Émile Zola’s Money. He has also translated numerous works by North African authors, including The Barbary Figs and the forthcoming The Funerals by Rashid Boudjedra, and The Bottom of the Jar by Abdellatif Laâbi. His translation of Laâbi’s Selected Poems has just received a PEN Translates grant from English PEN, while his translation of Mohamed Nedali’s Prime Cutswas awarded a Hemingway Grant. He reviews for The NationThe Times Literary Supplement, and The Chimurenga Chronic.

The Confines of the Shadow Paperback. Order now.

by Alessandro Spina (Author), Andre Naffis-Sahely (Translator), Darf Publishers Ltd (June 1, 2015)

The Confines of the Shadow is a sequence of novels and short stories that map the transformation of the Libyan city of Benghazi from a sleepy Ottoman backwater in the 1910s to the second capital of an oil-rich kingdom in the 1960s. Alessandro Spina’s saga begins in November 1912 with The Young Maronite, which sees Italian soldiers solidifying their control over Libya’s coasts, leaving the Libyan rebels to withdraw to the desert and prepare for a war that would last until 1931, when by dint of sheer brutality, including the internment of tens of thousands of civilians into concentration camps, the Italians crushed the rebellion and murdered its widely respected leader, Omar al-Mukhtar. Employing a cosmopolitan array of characters, ranging from Ottoman functionaries, to Sanussi aristocrats and Italian officers, Spina chronicles Italy’s colonial experience from the euphoria of conquest – giving us a front row seat to the rise and subsequent fall of Fascism in the aftermath of World War II – to the country’s independence in the 1950s. Spina finally concludes his narrative with the discovery of Libya’s vast oil and gas reserves, which triggered the tumultuous changes that led to Muammar Gaddafi’s forty-two year dictatorship. Distinguishing themselves by their intimate understanding of East and West, the novels that comprise The Confines of the Shadow are among the most significant achievements of 20th century fiction and stand unchallenged as the only multi-generational epic about the European experience in North Africa. This is the first installment of a three-volume translation, and it includes The Young MaroniteThe Marriage of Omar and The Nocturnal Visitor, which are set between 1912 and 1927.

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