A guide to Festivaletteratura 2019
31 7 2019
A guide to Festivaletteratura 2019

​The 23rd edition of Festivaletteratura will be held in Mantova from Wednesday 4 to Sunday 8 September

Check out the list of guest authors.

Festivaletteratura Mantova Wednesday 4 September - Sunday 8 September 2019

To see the updated list of authors click here

The programme of the 23rd edition of Festivaletteratura is online. In the over 300 events, authoritative voices already familiar to the public will be heard alongside fresh, often thought-provoking or unusual, but certainly never anonymous or indistinct new ones. It is these recognized voices, narratives, ideas and often-conflicting visions that feed the Festival's dialogue year after year. Each event is pieced together with the authors, in the attempt to most effectively share the stories and thoughts that bring them to Mantova: finding the best forms, often inventing them together, and encouraging meetings that would be impossible elsewhere is part of the game and the work that lies behind the delicate framework of Festivaletteratura.


Festivaletteratura consolidates its international dimension this year with a record of over 70 foreign guests. A deliberate choice, which answers the widespread request by Festivalgoers to extend the plurality of voices as widely as possible and to foster even greater exchange of ideas This choice is also reflected in the decision to increase the number of events without interpreters, in a bid to encourage those who don’t need translation and to bring authors even closer to the audience.

Among the non-Italian authors who will be in Mantova for the first time, we would like to mention in particular Margaret Atwood, the world-famous Canadian novelist; the Egyptian Nawal al-Sa'dawi, an icon of commitment to women's rights in the Muslim world; Scottish novelist Ali Smith, several times Nobel prize candidate; Valeria Luiselli, a rising star in Latin American literature; American novelist Dave Eggers, founder of reading and writing centre for children 826Valencia; Bernhard Schlink, one of the world’s most widely translated German writers; Manuel Vilas, considered a leading author of contemporary Spanish literature. The 2019 edition will also see the return of other celebrated authors: the Nigerian Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka; Ian McEwan and Abraham B. Yehoshua, two of the stars of the very first edition of Festivaletteratura in 1997; Elif Shafak, one of the most internationally recognized voices of Turkish literature; American writer and essayist Jonathan Safran Foer; Howard Jacobson, British novelist and humourist, and winner of the Man Booker Prize. Pilar del Rio, Spanish journalist and translator will remember her Nobel prize-winning late husband, José Saramago, protagonist of one of the very first editions of the Festival, in a meeting that will combine the presentation of previously unpublished writings by the great Portuguese author with references to his stay in Mantova.


Festivaletteratura uses the works of some of the finest narrative writers as a compass to guide us round the world, starting from the United States, a country that perhaps more than any other reflects the contradictions of our time. Following the pace of the great American novel, reinterpreted by authors such as Dorothy Allison, Salvatore Scibona, Benjamin Taylor and Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, the Festival will travel the immense spaces and violent history of this country, marked by migrations, racial tensions, collective tragedies, and forgotten wars that continue to weigh on its current status, fuelling unresolved conflicts. The desire for emancipation of Meg Wolitzer’s female characters and the human condition in the Silicon Valley era examined by Joshua Cohen are some of the other faces of America that the Festivaletteratura mirror will be holding up for contemplation.

A broad variety of subjects and styles characterizes the British novelists attending the festival in Mantova, which besides McEwan, Jacobson and Smith includes the sophisticated prose of Alan Hollinghurst; Gail Honeyman, with her publicly acclaimed first novel; Annalena McAfee, author and leading journalist; David Nicholls, screenwriter and author of highly successful tales of romance.


An important part of the events planned for Festivaletteratura 2019 is dedicated to Europe's uncertain destiny. Amin Maalouf, the great French academician and intellectual of Lebanese origin, is perhaps in an ideal situation to address these reflections first, as he attempts to trace the boundaries of an identity crisis and the contrasting ideals that herald dangerous involutions and the temptation of autocracy. At the root of it all was a threatening barbarian Germany, to quote Tacitus – as told by Dino Baldi -, the scattered lands and peoples taken in hand by the patient wisdom of the Benedictines celebrated by Paolo Rumiz, the routes of commerce and knowledge - described by Alessandro Vanoli - that have made our history global since ancient times, the northern seas navigated by the pirates and legends of Bergsveinn Birgisson, and the long history of the Jewish people traced by Simon Schama. But it is the ghosts evoked by the recent past, the authoritarian nostalgia that seems to conquer the black heart of European anger that dominates the discourse. Narrators, essayists and artists such as Emilio Gentile, Siegmund Ginzberg, Nora Krug, Donald Sassoon, Uwe Timm, Natascha Wodin and Goncourt prize winner Éric Vuillard will attempt to reconstruct the precise historical identity of fascism, the indecisiveness and atrocious decisions that brought about its rise, the dimensions of horror, and subsequently the suffering that has followed in the wake of the new post-war order, all consequences of an unsustainable moral heritage for the new generations.

Bringing us back sharply to the present will be the illuminating report by Navid Kermani on the eastern regions of Europe and the countries beyond its borders, the probing research by Francesca Mannocchi and Lorenzo Tondo on the trafficking of human beings across the Mediterranean, the analysis by Ece Temelkuran on the autocracies that are emptying formally democratic systems from within. A European puzzle of the new century that also comprises the writings of Jonas Hassen Khemiri about a confused Sweden, far removed from the social model it was in the 70s, those of Nicolas Mathieu, who portrays the French province, where the economic crisis has burned the certainties and dreams of two generations, as well as the stories of many fiction writers - Narine Abgarjan, Nadeem Aslam, Alex Capus, Slavenka Drakulić, Burhan Sönmez - who will take us to other Europes, private, far away, sometimes even fable-like, colourful fragments of our kaleidoscopic continent.

The events of the twentieth century in Europe will also be portrayed on stage, with the socialist cabaret that Gian Piero Piretto, Alessio Lega, Marco Sabbatini and other guests will be performing on consumption and cultural fashions in Soviet Russia, and with Messia e Rivoluzione (Messiah and Revolution), an evening of readings and music on the Jewish dream of the Bund with Miriam Camerini and Wlodek Goldkorn. Embracing a broader Mediterranean dimension, the great French orientalist Gilles Kepel will examine in a historical perspective the crises that have crossed and continue to cross mare nostrum between the Middle East, Europe and North Africa, observed in images and narrative fiction by photographer and writer of Lebanese origin, Rawi Hage.

Among the other writers present at the Festival, mention should also be made of Jane Sautière, a cosmopolitan author who spends her life between France and the East; Éric Chevillard, a tireless experimenter with forms and styles of fiction writing; and Cameroonian novelist and essayist Patrice Nganang. Luca Scarlini will dedicate one of his son et lumière talks to Astrid Lindgren, a Swedish writer beloved by generations of readers.


The intricate history of Europe is reflected in an eccentric and brutal way in Tirana. Seemingly foreign to everything, the young Albanian capital is the scene of both European disintegration and the rebirth of hope, a proud claim for identity and an infinite diaspora, totalitarianism – all of it - and faith in democracy, state atheism, Islam and Christianity. Tirana is the City in Books chosen by Festivaletteratura for 2019. There will be a pop up library curated by Luca Scarlini in the book tent in Piazza Sordello, with about 200 novels, reportages and essays dedicated to the city by authors including Dritëro Agolli, Girolamo De Rada, Elvira Dones, Gëzim Hajdari, Ismail Kadare, Alexander Langer, Indro Montanelli, Besnik Mustafaj, Mario Rigoni Stern. The writings will be illustrated to the public within the library by a group of young researchers and PhD students of Albanology. Exploration of Tirana and its artistic and literary imagery continues in meetings with writers Fatos Kongoli and Virgjil Muçi, in concert with jazz singer Elina Duni, in the lecture given by architect Elisabetta Terragni, who designed the ‘House of Leaves’ and Museum-House Ismail Kadaré in Tirana, and in the ‘atlas’ of readings by Luca Scarlini and the Compagnia della Lettura.


The crime novel will travel treacherous routes between past and present, metropolitan skyscrapers and the rugged mountains of the Ogliastra to reach Festivaletteratura 2019. Special guest of this year's events dedicated to crime and mystery will be America’s Jeffery Deaver, who has earned fans from around the world with his book series featuring Lincoln Rhyme. At the Festival for the first time will be German Harald Gilbers, author of detective stories set in a Hitlerian Germany on the brink of collapse.

Turning our gaze to the Italian authors, we cannot fail to mention Marcello Simoni, one of Italy’s best historical thriller writers, and Gesuino Nemus and Gianni Farinetti, whose stories tell of life in the deep and distant provinces.


Dacia Maraini and Erri De Luca will lead the group of Italian novelists at Festivaletteratura. They will be joined by other regular Festival attendees such as Francesco Abate, Stefania Bertola, Adrian Bravi, Paolo Colagrande, Donatella Di Pietrantonio, Marcello Fois, Laura Forti, Michela Marzano, Michela Murgia, Piersandro Pallavicini, Gabriele Romagnoli, Elvira Seminara and Alessandro Zaccuri. Marco Malvaldi will be performing a reading/show inside Mantova prison. Among those making their debut will be Erica Barbiani, a Friulian storyteller with an original talent for writing, and Doris Femminis, author of stories poised between the isolated villages on the mountains of Canton Ticino and the “civilisation” at the bottom of the valley. In a conversational exchange on questions that continue to intrigue us as individuals and as a community, Corrado Augias will discuss the relationship with the divine in contemporary society, Domenico De Masi the challenges wrought by fear and creativity on our daily lives - and Massimo Recalcati the tension of desire for the heteros.


A reflection on reading and on readers remains fundamental at the Festival. Maryanne Wolf and Alberto Manguel will look at the undergoing changes in how we read and the consequences on our learning practices brought about by the digital revolution; Lina Bolzoni will reconstruct the birth in the modern age of the mythology of the reader, in perennial dialogue with their favourite authors; Gioele Dix will confess his hidden literary passions in a monologue on stage in Piazza Castello. Borrowing from the example of Primo Levi, Gianrico Carofiglio, Massimo Gramellini and Arianna Porcelli Safonov, together with Neri Marcorè, will reflect on the use and abuse of words. Daniel Vogelmann will recount an exceptional biography that is intertwined with Italy’s history of publishing.


To overcome the sense of disorientation pervading contemporary society and to restore the future to its place as the focus of our horizon, we need new ethics and new instruments of thought capable of undermining logics and systems of power held to be incontrovertible. In this sense, philosophers, economists and intellectuals from a range of backgrounds will take the opportunity at the Festival to indicate some possible, albeit partial, ways to update models and interpretations that are now obsolete. Frédéric Gros, Donatella Di Cesare and Elettra Stimilli will focus on the need for and the value of disobedience; philosopher Massimo Cacciari will offer us a new interpretation of humanism; Senegalese sociologist and economist Felwine Sarr will try to re-establish a way of thinking on Africa distinct from the pessimistic or enthusiastic stereotypes and by adopting a different perspective on social life; Mariana Mazzucato will outline the public sector’s fundamental role in innovating the economy; Geneviève Fraisse, Ginevra Bompiani and Rosella Prezzo will re-interpret politics, culture and religion in light of the exclusion and achievements of women. Cristina Cattaneo will illustrate an elementary act of dignity, examining the events behind the recognition of the bodies of migrants recovered at sea; Vincenzo Paglia and Gherardo Colombo will discuss the relationship between justice and legality; Gianfranco Pacchioni will address the decline of our species in the face of a growing preponderance of AI. There will also be a space dedicated to Ágnes Heller who was to return to Festivaletteratura in September: the great Hungarian philosopher will be remembered by Laura Boella, Donatella Di Cesare and Marco Filoni.

War will be the subject of wide ranging reflections, in a series of meetings that will approach interfaith dialogue (with Ignazio De Francesco and Marco Bontempi), the role of school and communication in forming consciences (with Franco Lorenzoni and Domenico Quirico), relating strife to the younger generations (Alessandro Sanna and Melania Mazzucco). As part of the events for children, Danish writer Janne Teller will introduce younger readers to the experience of those forced to abandon their homeland due to war. Benedetta Tobagi and Carlo Lucarelli will re-evoke the first blood-soaked scene of Italian terrorism, Piazza Fontana, which marked the start of one of the most dramatic periods in the nation’s recent history.


A rethinking of ethics and lifestyles cannot ignore environmental issues, this year once again the focus of a good number of events. Roberto Danovaro and Leonardo Becchetti will discuss the indispensable correlation between nature, wellbeing and the economy; Giorgio Vacchiano, Gianfranco Bologna and Emanuele Bompan on the risks associated with the progressive loss of biodiversity. A radical reversal of the point of view will be proposed - through art, philosophy and natural sciences - by Renato Bruni, Caspar Henderson and Marco Di Domenico: shifting the centre away from man, the living order - plant and animal – is immediately redefined, responding to laws and principles outside their common acceptance so far. Fritjof Capra will take us on a wondrous journey through the genius of Leonardo's botany.


By observing it on a micro-scale, Scienceground this year sets out to turn the way the world is interpreted upside down. Talks, debates and experimentation aimed at narrating and problematising science in society and the social in science through scientific and popular literature will take place this year in the classrooms and cloisters of the “Isabella d'Este” High School and will be entirely focused on the subject of microbes. Invisible to the naked eye, and present in our body in greater numbers than cells, these organisms are closely linked to the evolution of the human species. The small scientific community of Scienceground will offer an interactive experience for adults and children, open every day of the Festival, with a series of workshops, reading groups and some impromptu interdisciplinary conversations with some of the Festival's guests. Among the events related to the Scienceground microbes, will be a talk by Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer of the United Kingdom, on the alarming problem of antibiotic resistance.


In the totally analogue space of the whiteboards - traditionally used to explain science topics in the open air - Festivaletteratura this year will host a series of lessons on algorithms and machine learning: Mattia Galeotti, Carlotta Orsenigo, Marco Gori and Dino Pedreschi will explain not just the basic principles but their enormous potential and often surprisings limitations , as well as the overwhelming effects on our daily life. The whiteboards dealing with sports tactics may instead fit better under the heading of applied sciences: Emanuele Atturo, Emiliano Battazzi, Daniele Morrone and Marco Pastonesi will talk about some of the most important playbook and game concept innovations to revolutionise sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball and rugby.

And the Festival will have some great sporting stories as well: the last year of Fausto Coppi's life, told by Marco Pastonesi and the accordion of Alessandro d'Alessandro; the daily habits of tennis champions narrated by Matteo Codignola; high altitude running narrated by Simone Sarasso; the incredible feats of Italian soldiers in prison camps in South Africa during the Second World War, remembered by Carlo Annese and Federico Buffa; and tales collected by outstanding example Alex Zanardi to highlight the values of sport devoid of rhetoric.


Sport, science, art, history, radio, fashion and, of course, literature will be called upon for an ambitious and undeferrable cultural enterprise: the founding of a museum of the Italian language. A project that has never before been attempted which, according to the intentions of Giuseppe Antonelli, should take shape as an exhibition of objects - books, inscriptions, sculptures, pictorial representations, multimedia materials, but also clothes, means of locomotion, work tools, technological equipment, everyday objects - which refer to a particular moment or to a significant event in the history of the Italian language. During the presentation of the Festival programme in July, Antonelli will illustrate the idea of the museum and the action plan intended for the creation of its collection. All members of the Festival community will be given forms on which to suggest objects they consider essential to the collection, or encouraged to donate pieces to the museum. Writers and experts invited to represent the arts and sciences and the most diverse sectors of social and cultural life (Claudio Bartocci, Giovanni Bietti, Lina Bolzoni, Massimo Cirri, Lella Costa, Anna Ottani Cavina, Elvira Seminara e Alessandro Vanoli) will officially show their support at the Festival, conversing with Antonelli on inventions, exchanges, metaphors, and a range of interactions between the language used in their own specific field and the words used by everyone, to show how language is not a rigid armour but a living body that grows and evolves together with those who use it.


As part of the task of scouting for emerging talents in literature and art, monitoring movements and creative trends, the relationship with the most original print and online literary magazines established in recent years in Italy and abroad will be continuing with even greater vigour. John Freeman, former director of Granta and a leading figure in the American publishing world, will talk about Freeman’s, the magazine he founded in 2015 that publishes both emerging authors and established stars of the international literary firmament. In Piazza Alberti the pensieri in comune events will be back with Italian and foreign newspapers temporarily on sale, organised by Edicola 518. At the centre of the debates organized by Cartography, Lezioni di anarchia, Polpettas, il Tascabile and l'Ultimo uomo will be maps and geographies, freedom and learning, artist’s stories, writing and minorities, men and numbers in sports writing. As part of accenti, Balena Bianca will engage our thoughts on climate fiction in the context of the general narrative on environmental change, with Fabio Deotto; while - going back to the 70s - Angela Borghesi will share with Silvio Perrella the controversial opinions that appeared in the culture section on La Storia (History: A Novel) by Elsa Morante. Magazine fiction will be dedicated again this year to the project Meglio di un romanzo (Better than a novel), aimed at aspiring young reporters keen to look beyond the distorting mirror of the latest news. The announcement will appear on the Festivaletteratura website and the best projects will be assessed by expert journalists before the audience in Piazza Alberti during pitching sessions organized by Christian Elia.


In the world of contemporary journalism, images undoubtedly represent the most powerful and most popular medium. Unfortunately, descriptions are often little more than didactic or, even worse, aesthetic compositions that prevent us from understanding what really lies beneath. Looking beyond the surface and pointing the lens at where the beginning of a story may lie is instead the ethical and poetic measure of a photojournalism that is producing better and better interpreters internationally. Lorenzo Tugnoli, recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the World Press Photo, and Marco Gualazzini, whose over-ten-year project took him right across Africa, will talk about the need for a kind of photography that is close to the people and to the situations it portrays. Paolo Di Paolo - together with his daughter Silvia - will testify instead to an exceptional era of Italian journalism, in which he and his camera were directly responsible for portraying in Il Mondo ordinary people and film stars in Italy in the 50s and 60s. Revolving around these topics and the concept of vision - according to the not always coinciding points of view of disciplines and professions close to photography - will be La libellula e il ciclope (The dragonfly and the Cyclops), a diptych of appointments by Frammenti di fotografia and Giovanni Marozzini, coordinated by Matteo Balduzzi, Giovanna Calvenzi, Francesco Cito e Francesco Faeta.


Much of the Festivaletteratura 2019 programme focuses on images. The comic book genre is now firmly established in Italy too, attracting the attention of a readership that spans all generations. An undisputed master of the genre like Igort, who will be back to talk about his Japanese travel journals and whose film Manga Do is presented in the Pagine Nascoste section, will be joined by Scot Tom Gauld, appreciated for his humorous cartoons in the Guardian and the New York Times, and authors such as Lorenzo Ghetti, Nora Krug, Elisa Macellari and Tony Sandoval, mentioned in other parts of this presentation. Beyond the strict confines of the comic strip Lorenzo Mattotti will talk about his work on the animated film presented at Cannes, La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia (The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily); Fausto Gilberti - with Davide Longo – about the infinite and unexpected exchanges, rewritings and second thoughts that lurk behind the creation of an illustrated book; Steven Guarnaccia - with Gabriele Monti – about reinterpreting a classic tale like The Emperor's New Clothes in dandy version. Yocci will draw the most famous dishes of the Japanese culinary tradition following the directions of Aya Yamamoto and Patrizio Roversi; while, still in the kitchen but without images - Miriam Camerini and Paolo Rumiz will illustrate the food rules of the main religions.

Moving on to the world of art, design and architecture, Anna Ottani Cavina will focus on the grand era when major exhibitions redefined values and knowledge, causing real amazement. With equal sense of wonder, Navid Kermani will give an unprecedented interpretation of Christian art from a Muslim point of view. Two non-parallel careers in industrial design and design culture will be told in first person by Alberto Meda and Clino T. Castelli, assisted by Beppe Finessi and Guido Musante; while Luca Molinari as part of his exploration of world-cities will be speaking about New York(with architect Peter T. Lang and writer Salvatore Scibona) and Cairo (with journalist Paola Caridi and photographer Filippo Romano).


Playing an increasingly prominent role at the Festival thanks to Read On - the project supported by the European Union's Creative Europe program (www.readon.eu) – young people will discover new landmarks on the Festivaletteratura map. The Chiostro del Museo Diocesano will be transformed into a space aimed at teenagers, with a programme of events – adults WILL be allowed - that will welcome suggestions and ideas gathered thanks to Read On during the course of the year. Some of the most eagerly awaited international guests include Swede Frida Nilsson, Annette Herzog and Rasmus Bregnhøi, the latter two respectively author and illustrator of tumultuous love stories, and Meg Wolitzer, who with Marco Magnone will talk about the complicated transition to adulthood. The world of comics will be represented by Mexican Tony Sandoval, a graphic novelist perpetually hovering between gothic and fantasy, and Bolognese Lorenzo Ghetti, a young experimenter of genres and formats. Luigi Ballerini and Marco Dotti will talk about using money and the meaning of work among the very young; Gigliola Alvisi and Francesco Cavalli with musician Stefano Boccafoglia will remember Ilaria Alpi in an afternoon of readings and music to stress the need not to forget, while writing, production and perception of the television series will be the subject of two events involving some of the most successful scriptwriters and industry experts.

Also held at the Museo Diocesano will be all the Read On events: the blurandevù interviews (with Licia Troisi, Ghemon, Lella Costa and Nicolas Mathieu); the final voting for Anthology! 2019 – on the subject of love - with the special participation of Alberto Manguel and Chiara Valerio; the highlight of Fanfiction lab with Jonathan Stroud, who for the occasion has officially made the Bartimaeus Sequence available to his young fans the “prize-giving” for the best works in My Life in Strips 2019; and an intergenerational and intercultural dialogue between Anna Osei, Elisa Macellari and Elvira Mujčić in Passports; plus a look at how books for adolescents can bridge the gap between children and adults at home, at school and in the library, coordinated by Giuliana Facchini and Davide Longo.

The Consorzio di Bonifica in piazza Broletto will be hosting the Read On Station, a space halfway between activity centre and test track for those interested in the project and in general for events for under 20s. With the help of Read On volunteers, kids can immediately participate in Book Review, Fanfiction Lab and many other activities that appear on the readon.eu website. The Read On Station will be home to the nerve centre of Blurandevù and the Passports EU Dreamers workshop, where a group of young volunteers organised by Veronica Fernandes and Esperance Ripanti will be invited to exchange ideas on how the Europe of the future will be, and calling on authors at the Festival to give short interviews. Read On Station will also host various free activities and workshops, such as the My Life in Strips Factory (a workshop held by four cartoonists and illustrators attending the Festival (Elisa Macellari, Lorenzo Ghetti, Steven Guarnaccia and Vanna Vinci); web review courses Diredilibri held by Chiara Valerio, Matteo Biagi and Giuliana Facchini; as well as Save My Story live, where Marco Magnone will ask young readers to help unravel the knot of a story he is working on. Read On Station will also be home to a library with the favourite books of the young people who took part in Anthology and Read More. The same space will host an info-point on the Read On activities, aimed at teachers, librarians and all those who work with books and children.


Children and families are back at Casa del Mantegna. The rooms, courtyards and gardens of the splendid fifteenth-century residence of the Paduan painter will also host meetings, workshops, readings and other fantasies designed for a public ranging from zero to 12 and parents, from morning until late at night. A relaxation area for small talk and fun and games between one event and another and a children’s bookstore will make this space both unique to the city of the Festival and the most perfect realization of the spirit of celebration, the wish to experiment, and the irrepressible curiosity that characterizes the whole event.

Some of the most popular children's authors will be appearing at the garden tent: first of all Huck Scarry, who on the centenary of the birth of his father Richard will bring to Mantova Lowly Worm, Huckle Cat, Mother Bear and all the other characters adored by generations of children; and the American best selling author Andrew Clements, the Swede Frida Nilsson, author of bizarre and humorous stories. Roberto Piumini will talk about his Don Quixote, while Vanna Vinci will show the young spectators how to spot the dinosaurs that hide in the streets of Mantova. Talking about wolves will be Giuseppe Festa and Mario Ferraguti, while Telmo Pievani and Andrea Vico will reveal some plant secrets, Marco Magnone and Stefano Tofani on the difficult art of growing up; Simona Gallerani, Edwige Pezzulli, Tullia Sbarrato, Raffaella Schneider and Rosa Valiante on the origins of the universe and the appearance of the first black holes.

Inside Casa del Mantegna carte blanche - and coloured pencils – for artists and illustrators and their creativity: Antonella Abbatiello, Giacomo Agnetti, Rasmus Bregnhøi, Vittoria Facchini, Sarah Mazzetti (who designed the 2019 Festival programme cover), Ukrainian Andriy Lesiv and Romana Romanyshyn will attempt some daring feats of creation with the complicity of the young attendees. Somewhere between philosophy and art will be the workshop held by Ludosofici, while Laura Bonalumi, Paola Caridi, Susanna Mattiangeli and Emanuela Nava will try out some new tales to feed kids’ eternal love for stories. A series of evening events specially dedicated to the fairytale will add to the already rich programme at Casa del Mantegna: Pino Costalunga, Dario Moretti and Giusi Quarenghi will tell fairy tales, some entertaining and others scary, from the Albanian folk tradition, the classics and the Bible.

On the first floor, the Girotondo merry-go-round will have sparkling new attractions. The fun designed to fuel the curiosity of children and parents and to test their manual and intellectual skills this year will involve Giacomo Agnetti, Alessio D'Ellena, Steven Guarnaccia, Ludosofici, Susanna Mattiangeli, Sarah Mazzetti and the pair Andriy Lesiv/Romana Romanyshyn. As usual, Girotondo will be open throughout the Festival, and the invaluable instructions booklet handed out at the entrance will give directions on how to continue playing at home.


Festivaletteratura will be renewing its constant attention to poetry with events that include the return of international Pulitzer prize winner Philip Schultz, the already-mentioned Wole Soyinka, plus a series of meetings with some of the major contributors to contemporary Italian poetry: Chandra Livia Candiani, Anna Maria Farabbi, Umberto Fiori, Antonio Prete, Patrizia Valduga. The focus of Giorgio Agamben's talk will be the contrast between the use of dialect and Italian in 21st century poetry, which has only recently been rediscovered by the publishers. Voci dal Novecento will celebrate the all too quickly forgotten Italian poets of the last century, at the Conservatorio “Campiani” after its success at Festivaletteratura 2018.

There will be no shortage of examples of poetry spilling over into neighbouring territories, as if to test its true powers of expression. In Ultima Poesia, a multi-aesthetic performance for four poets and a musician, Tommaso Di Dio, Giuseppe Nibali, Damiano Scaramella and Fabrizio Sinisi will contaminate their verses with visual arts, critical exercise, cinema and musical sound. Mimmo Borrelli, author of poetry theatre, will bring Napucalisse to the Festival, a secular oratory that sings an innocent and damned Naples through a new language of sea and fire.


A look at playwriting will continue with scrittura in scena, a series of events hosted by Magdalena Barile and featuring Mimmo Borrelli and Chiara Lagani of Fanny & Alexander. As a continuation of the dialogue on their work, Borrelli and Lagani will each hold a short workshop on bringing theatre closer to literature, to give the public the chance to experience a new way of relating to the written page guaranteed to change their usual reading habits.

Fanny & Alexander will be enacting Se questo è Levi, a travelling performance/reading in three phases which aims to offer a “living” testimony of the current relevance of Primo Levi, thanks to the extraordinary acting skills of Andrea Argentieri Another tribute from theatre is to Alberto Moravia with La donna leopardo, a collage of writings by Moravia and others belonging to the last years of the writer’s life, recited by Michela Cescon and narrated by Lorenzo Pavolini. Three plays for a young audience: Lupi, a tender story about malice and ferocity by and with Roberto Abbiati and Johannes Schlosser; Leo delle meraviglie, a birthday party for Leonardo da Vinci conceived by Drammatico Vegetale; Alzati, Martin, a new play by Roberto Piumini on Martin Luther King that will make iits debut at Festivaletteratura.

Connections between literature, music and creativity will abound: bonus track will be back on stage at Festivaletteratura with new interpreters: Frankie hi-nrg mc, one of the founders of Italian rap, will be chatting to Federico Taddia and Antonio Dikele Distefano, a writer who has drawn inspiration from rap; Vittorio Brumotti will talk to Davide Longo about danger and challenges; Francesco De Carlo, stand-up comedian and writer, will attempt to set a sort of Mercalli scale for comedy, with Francesco Abate.

Music is the common thread between other performances at the Festival; Muro, io ti mangio!, a botany-themed performance with readings and music conceived by Carlo Bava and Maria Cristina Pasquali; an evening with radio host Marco Presta accompanied by Max Paiella and Attilio Di Giovanni on guitar and keyboard.


Pagine Nascoste will again this year be screening the best documentaries on writers, books and other literary curiosities. At Cinema Oberdan, the Miracle of the Little Prince, a celebration of the novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry through its translations into some of the rarest languages in the world; Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin about the great science fiction author who died recently; The Invented Biography of Roberto Bolaño constructed from the settings of his novels and short stories. Pagine Nascoste films will as usual go on tour at the end of the Festival, and can be requested for public screenings across Italy.


Festivaletteratura this year will celebrate 10 years of its Archives. To mark the occasion Archivio Enigmistico, sixteen pages of crosswords, puzzles, riddles, anagrams and other games solvable only through an indepth knowledge of everything that happened in the twenty-two past editions. To find the answers, besides looking for clues while waiting in line, it will also be possible to use the new Archives website, which can also be easily logged on to from a mobile phone. The new search tools will make it easier to comb the info on authors, places, events and topics at the Festival from 1997 to the present. Those who wish to play as a team should save the date for the unmissable evening quiz conducted by Patrizio Roversi, with games on audio, video and photos stored in the archives.

Il sito è stato realizzato nell’ambito del progetto Open Festival con il contributo di
INNOVACULTURA - Regione Lombardia, Camere di Commercio Lombarde e Fondazione Cariplo