Our Roots Are Deep with Passion

Publication Date: Oct 17, 2006

312 pp

Trade Paperback

List Price US $15.95
ISBN: 9781590512425

Edited by Lee Gutkind and Joanna Clapps Herman, with an introduction by Joe Mantegna

Thoughtful, poignant, and hilarious personal essays collected by the editors of Creative Nonfiction explore the meanings of Italian-American identity.

In the twenty-one nonfiction narratives collected in Our Roots Are Deep with Passion, established and emerging writers with family ties to Italy reflect on the ways that their lives have been accented with uniquely Italian-American flavors. Several of the essays breathe new life into the time-honored theme of family—Louise DeSalvo honors her grandfather, nick-named “the drunk” because he spent his life of hard work drinking wine instead of water, and James Vescovi portrays the close of the stormy relationship between his father and grandmother. Other stories tackle the mystical side of Italian-American life, like Laura Valeri’s account of a summer vacation séance in Sardinia that goes eerily awry. And elsewhere, Stephanie Susnjara charts the history of garlic in society and her kitchen, and Gina Barreca offers an unabashed confession of congenital jealousy.

Lee Gutkind, founding editor of Creative Nonfiction, the nation’s premier nonfiction prose literary journal, and Joanna Clapps Herman have brought together artful essays by novelists, scholars, critics, and memoirists from across the country. The pieces are as varied as their authors, but all explore the unique intersections of language, tradition, cuisine, and culture that characterize the diverse experience of Americans of Italian heritage.

Excerpt from Our Roots Are Deep with Passion

“This collection of essays on being Italian-American (or in some cases, an Italian in America or an American in Italy) is filled with imagery and topics of not only food and wine but Catholicism, immigration and linguistics…. In the end, this welcome collection challenges preconceived notions about Italian-Americans.” —Publishers Weekly

“Being Italian-American is more than just your nonna’s bolognese, First Communion and colorful Soprano-speak. A leading literary journal has collected 22 essays (and a foreword by actor Joe Mantegna) on unexpected subjects, from a father’s accordion to a lesbian wedding, Italian-style.” —Newsday

“The stories of Italian-Americans in smokey social halls, braiding hard boiled eggs into dough, hands deep in the fecund earth of the garden and always, it seemed, always in the kitchen are stories that are singular and communal, like Italian-Americans themselves.” —Waterbury Republican-American

“This thoroughly enjoyable and instructive essay collection also serves as Volume 30 of the literary journal Creative Nonfiction. Gutkind (founding editor, Creative Nonfiction) and Herman (creative writing, Manhattanville Coll.) either performed their editing duties superbly, had an enormous pile of writing talent from which to pick, or some combination of both circumstances judging from the engrossing results….Essential…engaging…and highly recommended.” —Library Journal