112th: Discussion of "A Family Lexicon" by Natalia Ginzburg
Please join us Tuesday, May 9th at 7pm for a discussion of A Family Lexicon by Natalia Ginzburg, featuring the translator, Jenny McPhee, Alexander Stille, and Peg Boyers.
A New York Review Books Classics Original
Natalia Ginzburg begins A Family Lexicon with an unusual disclaimer: “The places, events and people are all real. I have invented nothing. Every time that I have found myself inventing something in accordance with my old habits as a novelist, I have felt impelled at once to destroy everything thus invented.” In A Family Lexicon fiction is under the control of fact, and the result is a novel that re-creates the small world of a family enduring some of the most difficult years of the twentieth century—spanning the period from the rise of Mussolini through World War II, in which Ginzburg’s husband fought for the resistance and was killed by the Nazis—with passionate objectivity. Every family has its store of phrases and sayings by which it maintains its sense both of what it means to be a family and of what sets it apart as one particular family. This lexicon, these shared understandings, these stories, not by any means always to be relied on and sometimes not a little ridiculous, lie at the heart of a great novel about family and history.
Jenny McPhee is a translator and the author of the novels The Center of Things, No Ordinary Matter, and A Man of No Moon. She is the Director of the Center of Applied Liberal Arts at NYU and lives in New York.
Alexander Stille is San Paolo Professor of International Journalism at Columbia. His most recent book is a memoir, The Force of Things: A Marriage in War in Peace.
Peg Boyers teaches poetry and translation at Skidmore College and at the Columbia University School of the Arts. She is the Executive Editor of Salmagundi Magazine and the author of three books of poetry published by the University of Chicago Press. One of those books, entitled Hard Bread, is built around the life of Natalia Ginzburg.