November 23, 2007

Are Authors 'Writing for Pizza'?

I'm amazed at authors' attraction for I-t-a-l-y, I mean Italy - the FIFA 2006 World Cup Champions. I recently wrote a novel synopsis that has a lot of Italian presence, though based on an African plot. Because of my other projects, I've really not settled down to developing this story, but hey, I might just start working on that project soon.

I've just read an article in Reuters UK that reports the number of books by foreign authors set in Italy has exploded this decade, according to a survey, with best-selling author John Grisham, no doubt, following the wave.

It's been a centuries-old love affair between writers and Italy and this love may be deepening as the century drags on. Since 2000, 274 novels by foreign authors and set in Italy have been published, more than twice the number in the 1990s as a whole, according to a study of book reviews by Italy's International Tourism Exchange, an industry group.

John Grisham showed his love for Italy when he wrote The Broker (2005), set mostly in the city of Bologna, and has publicly confessed that 'he adores Italy and all things Italian'. Hmm, who wouldn't love Italy - the land of opera, fine wines, romance, food and Football Americano. This love gave birth to Playing for Pizza in 2007, a novel about a disgraced NFL quarterback who heads off to Italy to play for the Parma Panthers in Italy's American football league.

Italy has long served as a setting for writers ranging from Thomas Mann, Stendhal, Edith Wharton and Henry James to Robert Harris, Ernest Hemingway and Patricia Highsmith. Though John Grisham doesn't have an Italian origin, it's reasonable to think that some American authors (with Italian origin or not) would set their books in Italy in order to learn more about their ancestral home.

So where does that leave me? With absolutely no trace of Italian blood in me, why would I want to write a novel with a strong Italian presence? Well, that might have something to do with my origin too:-)

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