Tag-Archive for ◊ Michela Murgia ◊

Author:
• Friday, October 28th, 2016

Michela Murgia was born in Cabras, on the Italian island of Sardinia, in 1972. She studied at the Lorenzo Mossa Oristano Institute for Technical Studies followed by theological studies at the Institute of Religious Studies of the Diocese of Oristano and taught religion for six years in middle and grammar school in Oristano.

Murgia was adopted as a soul-child – a traditional Sardinian adoption method – at the age of eighteen rather than the usual age of ten to fourteen, because of her natural father’s opposition.
Her third novel, Accabadora, is dedicated to her two mothers.

Michela Murgia’s Accabadora received the prestigious Campiello Prize in 2010, the Super Mondello International Literary Prize and the Molinello Award for First Fiction. It was first published in Italian in 2009, then in English in 2011 as well as being translated into several other languages. Murgia, who is an administrator at a power plant, is also a politician and writer. She has written several novels and non fiction books.

Accabadora meaning “the angel of mercy”, is the Sardinian name given to the unpaid caretaker of the dying. The story is set in the nineteen fifties – in the aftermath of two world wars – in the small village of Soreni in rural Sardinia, where the simple life and mentality of the natives seems to have endured throughout the centuries with its ingrained sense of honour, superstitions, spell casters, legends and ancestral rituals. They give Spiders maleficent powers, they immure alive puppies and crucifixes and holy statues are removed from a dying person’s bedroom.

Anna Teresa Listru, a destitute widow, who is glad to have one mouth less to feed and who also harbours some disdain towards her fourth daughter, Maria, happily accepts the well-to-do Bonaria Urrai’s offer of adoption without hesitation. Anna Teresa tells her bright daughter, Maria, that she doesn’t need education to be able to deal with what women are meant to do: wash, clean and cook.

The unmarried seamstress, Bonaria Urrai, is a “widow of a husband who had never married her”. She is now in her late fifties and ready to adopt the six-year-old girl, Maria Listru, as her “fill’e anima” (soul-child). “That is what they call children who are conceived twice, from the poverty of one woman and the sterility of another: Maria Listru became such a child, late fruit of the soul of Bonaria Urrai”. It is an old, accepted way of adoption in Sardinia which was never legal in Italy and was stopped years ago.

Tzia Bonaria looks after Maria as her own daughter with great fondness and teaches her the trade of garment-making as well as encouraging her with her school studies. Nevertheless Maria is intrigued by her soul mother’s mysterious behaviour. Why does she go out so late at night and why is she so secretive about it? The reason is that Tzia Bonaria did not want Maria to know that she is an “angel of mercy” who goes around easing other peoples’ sufferings and ending the lives of people with terminal illnesses.

The young Andría Bastíu, son of a vintner who is in love with Maria, reveals to her how Tzia Bonaria has killed his suicidal invalided and suffering elder brother, Nicola. Maria is devastated to learn the well-kept secret about her adoptive mother. Young and spirited, Maria is horrified and cannot accept this brutal, horrid practice. She takes her destiny in hand, flees her village as well as Tzia Bonaria without looking back and goes to work on the mainland for a rich family in Turin.

This experience will help Maria to mature and become more understanding and tolerant. Nevertheless, it will take some years for her to come to terms with Tzia Bonaria’s ways and forgive her for what she did. Later in the story, as fate would have it, Maria is called back from Turin to look after her dying adoptive mother. Maria faces the dilemma of whether to end Tzia Bonaria’s life as an act of mercy or continue to have her living in a permanent coma?

Accabadora is a slow novel, matching the slow pace of rural Sardinian life in the fifties. It describes the heavy weight of silence, the uncomfortable burden of the unsaid and the depth of feelings. It is a very strong, moving story addressing in its short account, serious, pertinent current topics such as adoption, parentage and the much disputed subject of euthanasia and the right to die with dignity as well as being a poignant reflection over life, death and suffering.

Tzia Bonaria carries the message of Michela Murgia whose moral is simple: to kill and free someone’s soul when hope is no longer possible and agony is relentless or coma is irreversible, is in some cases, a humane act of love and mercy.

Author:
• Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Here is a list of the books we have read and reviewed and will be reviewing in the coming months at the UNWG Book Club:

2003
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Human Stain by Philipp Roth

2004
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Youth & The End Of The Tether by Joseph Conrad
English Passengers by Matthew Kneale
Samarkand by Amin Maalouf
Portrait In Sepia by Isabel Allende
Youth by John Coetzee

2005
Waiting by Ha Jin
Silk by Alessandro Baricco
Notes From The Hyena’s Belly by Nega Mezlekia
Crabwalk by Günter Grass
The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath
The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

2006
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Fear And Trembling by Amelie Nothomb
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Eve Green by Susan Fletcher
The Palace Tiger by Barbara Cleverly
The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Buddha Of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer

2007
The Bookseller Of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Embers by Sandor Marai
Palace Of Desire by Naguib Mahfouz
Sugar Street by Naguib Mahfouz
I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti
One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In The Country Of Men by Hisham Matar
The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

2008
Staying On by Paul Scott
The Swallows Of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
The Cairo House by Samia Serageldin
Keeping The World Away by Margaret Forster
The Speed Of Light by Javier Cercas
The Lady On My Left by Catherine Cookson
My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
An Old Fashioned Arrangement by Susie Vereker
Tears Of The Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

2009
The Miniaturist by Kunal Basu
Mothers And Sons by Colm Toibin
The Blood Of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
So Many Ways To Begin by Jon McGregor
The Agüero Sisters by Cristina Garcia
The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks
Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda N. Adiche
That Summer In Paris by Abha Dawesar
The Island by Victoria Hislop

2010
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
The Mission Song by John le Carré
The Conjuror’s Bird by Martin Davies
The Sea by John Banville
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
26a by Diana Evans
The Road Home by Rose Tremain

2011
Desert by Le Clézio
Any Place I Hang My Hat by Susan Isaacs
Rules of The Wild by Francesca Marciano
My Name is Salma by Fadia Faqir
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
Nadirs by Herta Müller
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa El Aswany
Crow Stone by Jenni Mills

2012
The Other Hand (UK print) or Little Bee (USA print) by Chris Cleave. (Two different titles for the same novel depending on where you buy it).
The Siege by Ismail Kadare.
The Loner by Josephine Cox.
Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann.
Okei by Mitsugu Saotome.
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett / La couleur des sentiments / Gute Geister.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga / Le tigre blanc / Der Weisse Tiger.
My Father’s Notebook by Kader Abdolah / Cunéiforme / Die Geheime Schrift.

2013
The Last Station by Jay Parini / Une année dans la vie de Tolstoi / Tolstojs Letztes Jahr.
The Invisible City by Emili Rosales / La ville invisible / Tiepolo und die Unsichtbare Stadt.
No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod / La perte et le fracas.
Illuminations by Eva Hoffman.
Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher / Oasis du couchant / Sonnenuntergangs Oase.
Ignorance by Milan Kundera / L’ignorance / Die Unwissenheit.
Light of the Moon by Luanne Rice.
Softcore by Tirdad Zolghadr.
The Musician’s Daughter by Susanne Dunlap.

2014
Honour by Elif Shafak / Crime D’honneur.
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes / Des fleurs pour Algernon.
Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye / Trois femmes puissantes.
Firmin by Sam Savage.
The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle / Embrouille en Provence.
The Year Of The Hare by Arto Paasilinna / Le lièvre de Vatanen.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain / Madame Hemingway.
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen / Amours et autres enchantements.
The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh / Lignes d’ombres.

2015
The Map Of Love by Ahdaf Soueif / Lady Pacha.
The Secret History Of Costaguana by Juan Gabriel Vasquez / Histoire secrète du Costaguana.
Night Train To Lisbon by Pascal Mercier / Train de nuit pour Lisbonne.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.
The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell / Cette main qui a pris la mienne.
The Way To Paradise by Mario Vargas Liosa / Le Paradis-un peu plus loin.
The Sweetest Dream by Doris Lessing / Le rêve le plus doux de Doris Lessing.
The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker / Le détour de Gerbrand Bakker.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson / La dernière conquête du major Pettigrew de Helen Simonson.

2016
Coastliners by Joanne Harris / Voleurs de plage.
The Rock Of Tanios by Amin Maalouf / Le rocher de Tanios.
The Heart Of A Dog by Mikhail Boulgakov / Coeur de chien.
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin / La saison des mangues introuvables.
The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes / Une fille, qui danse.
Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie / Balzac et la petite tailleuse chinoise.
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi / Le ravissement des innocents.
Accabadora by Michela Murgia.
Hanna’s Daughters by Marianne Fredriksson / Hanna et ses filles.

2017
Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell / Epouser Mozart: Le roman des soeurs.
Please Look After Mother by Shin Kyung-Sook / Prends soin de maman.
Kartography by Kamila Shamsie / Kartographie.
All The Names by José Saramago / Tous les noms.
In The Skin Of A Lion by Michael Ondaatje / La peau d’un lion.
Moderato Cantabile by Marguerite Duras.
Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson / Dans les coulisses du musée.
The Little Paris Bookshop By Nina George / La lettre oubliée.
The Masterpiece by Anna Enquist / Le chef-d’oeuvre.

2018
The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds by Selina Siak Chin Yoke.
How It All Began by Penelope Lively.
The Heart Has Its Reasons by Maria Duenas. / Demain à Santa Cecilia.
The violinist Of Venice by Alyssa Palombo
The Woman On The Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford
The Briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami / Les années douces

 

 

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