Behind Closed Doors by Maria Messina
Her Father's House and Other Stories of Sicily

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With an ear for dialogue that may be compared to Tillie Olsen, Grace Paley, and Ernest Hemingway, Sicilian writer Maria Messina presents the captivating and brutal realities of women living in early-twentieth-century Italy in this first collection of her work available in English.

Behind Closed Doors portrays the habits and gestures, the words spoken and those left unsaid, of individuals caught between the traditions they respect and a desire to ease the social restrictions in their lives. Messina’s stories reveal a world in which women are shuttered in their houses, virtual servants to their families, and working men immigrate to the United States in fortune-seeking droves. It is also a world of unstated privileges in which habits and implied commands perpetuate women’s servitude.

A cultural album that captures the lives of peasant, working-class, and middle-class women, this volume will appeal to millions of Italian descendants and readers everywhere fascinated by Italian history.

Maria Messina (1887–1944) wrote short stories, children’s tales, and novels about her native Sicily until she died of multiple sclerosis. In recent years, her work has been rediscovered in Italy, where she has been compared to Luigi Pirandello and Giovanni Verga.

Fred Gardaphe is the director of Italian American Studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the president of MELUS (The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the US).

Elise Magistro holds a doctorate in Italian from UCLA and is a lecturer in Italian at Scripps College in Claremont, California.


About Maria Messina

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MARIA MESSINA, Ph.D. "Consultant" Maria Messina is a cultural anthropologist with more than 15 years of experience in public health, specializing in intensive short-term and large-scale ethnographic, qualitative research; research instrument development, training and implementation regarding drug and alcohol misuse and treatment among adolescents, adults and special populations such as adjudicated male and female adolescents; high risk and homeless street youth; high-risk behaviors, especially crystal methamphetamine and intravenous drug use, among men who have sex with men; HIV/AIDS and other STDs. Dr. Messina speaks French and Arabic and is a Fulbright scholar and a Social Science Research Council Fellow for her research in North Africa on gender, sexuality, and Islam.
Published July 1, 2007 by The Feminist Press at CUNY. 144 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Education & Reference. Fiction

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