With all of the hype surrounding Elena Ferrante, once neglected contemporary Italian female writers are now more than ever in the literary spotlight. These include Dacia Maraini (The Train to Budapest) and Simona Sparacco (About Time) but in particular Francesca Melandri, a screenwriter whose first debut in English, Eva Sleeps, shines with filmic intensity.
A bestselling novel back at home and Elle Magazine’s book of the year, it's set in South Tyrol. But the local mountains signify more than just ski resorts; they hold a dark history, marked by the brutal annexation from Austria to Italy after world war one, and years of persecution of German-speaking minorities and of ensuing terrorism.
Protagonist Eva, a 42-year-old successful PR, knows this only too well. Born without a father, the only paternal figure she has ever known is Vito, a soldier from Southern Italy who came to the region to combat
terrorism whilst she was a child, and fell in love with Eva’s mother, the beautiful Gerda.
Decades later, Eva will receive a call from Vito, who announces that he is very ill. The trip that Eva will take to the tip of Italy, explores, in the writer's words, ‘fathers, fatherless-ness, fatherlands and what identity means’.