Often sentimentalized as nurturing through food, Italian American women have struggled against this stereotype to speak of the realities of their lives. In this unique collection, they speak in voices that are loud, boisterous, sweet, savvy, and often subversively funny. Drawing on personal and cultural memory rooted in experiences of food, more than fifty writers dissolve conventional images, replacing them with a sumptuous, communal feast of poetry, stories, and memoir in which readers can taste the authentic experiences of Italian American women in their fascinating diversity.
Though they begin with food, writers such as Diane Di Prima, Sandra Gilbert, Carole Maso, Nancy Savoca, Agnes Rossi, and Lucia Perillo quickly carry the reader into unexpected, sometimes shocking terrain as they bear witness to the historically unspeakable in the Italian American experience-mental illness, family violence, incest, drug addiction, AIDS, and environmental degradation. They take what is usable from the past and reinvent old rituals for new situations. Their writing about food becomes a bridge to lost heritage-to immigrant experience, generational connections with Italy, and working-class life. It also provides a way to speak about pain and deprivation-about how others use food to harm women and how women use it to harm themselves and others. Tantalizing and appetizing, this collection is intellectually and politically provocative, for it revises any predictable notion of what it means to be an Italian American.
Louise DeSalvo is professor of English at Hunter College. She has published thirteen books, among them, Writing as a Way of Healing, Breathless, Adultery, and Virginia Woolf: The Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Her Life and Work. Edvige Giunta is associate professor of English at New Jersey City University. She is the author of Writing with an Accent: Contemporary Italian American Women Authors.
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