Crowned IdolsApril 1, 2022
Livia GionfridaApril 11, 2022
Award Cerimony for Marta Barone winner of the 2020 © Premio Vittorini
From the first to the fourth of September 2021 the 20th edition of the Premio Letterario Nazionale Elio Vittorini takes place in Siracusa. The winner will be chosen from the pieces selected by the jury: the constitutionalist and writer Michele Ainisi with Disordini; the journalist and writer Giosuè Calaciura with Io sono Gesù and the playwright and writer Antonella Lattanzi with Questo giorno che incombe.
We publish some of the archive photographs from the 1999 edition, one of which shows Dario Fo autographing the instant book by Aldo Mantineo, author of the following article, on the death of Emanuele Scieri.
Aldo Mantineo and Dario Fo at the Premio 1999
The “Elio Vittorini” Literary Prize bets on an industry of culture
Wherever a void is created there is always something - or someone - ready to fill it (even just partially), or at least ready to try. It isn’t a law of physics but an empirical statement which anyone can make simply by observing everyday life. However in Siracusa for seven long years up to 2020, the void created by the traumatic interruption of the Elio Vittorini National Literary Prize, an idea proposed and encouraged by the editor Arnaldo Lombardi - which the Amministrazione Provinciale of Siracusa had adopted and launched in 1996 and sustained with generous investments - wasn’t filled.
That void seemed increasingly incredible, unjustifiable and frustrating in the eyes of those who, like myself, had seen that Prize born, develop, baptize authors such as Andrea Camilleri when he was not yet that literary phenomenon we would soon learn to know and love. The deafening silence seemed even more incomprehensible as the strong evidence emerged of how the Premio Vittorini had contributed to making Siracusa during the years straddling the new millenniìum, one of the most important hubs in the national panorama, dedicated to the world of books, together with the Strega, Bancarella, and Campiello prizes, just to name a few of the most important Italian literary awards.
Awarding of Piero Isgrò 1999
Awarding of Maria Corti 1999
Awarding of Inge Feltrinelli 1999
Franca Rame at the Premio 1999
But what was to be done? In 2013 after the de facto abolition of the provincial districts, it hadn’t even been possible to give the prizes to the winners (who had already been identified by the evaluation committee), and Arnaldo Lombardi himself had tried to reboot the “machine” by bringing together a group of volunteers and founding the Associazione culturale Vittorini Quasimodo with the aim of continuing the tradition of the Prize.
But to restart the “Vittorini”, we had to wait many more years until in 2020 - the year defined by the pandemic which gave the idea of “restarting” a whole new meaning... the association found in the town council of Siracusa and especially in its culture office, in the trade confederation of Siracusa (Confcommercio), in the ancient drama foundation (Fondazione Inda), in the cultural heritage office (Soprintendenza per i beni culturali e ambientali), and in the chamber of commerce, (Camera di Commercio del Sud Est) new companions (to which this year Confcommercio Alessandria was added) with whom to re-propose the Vittorini Prize in a “lighter” version than in the past but with clear ideas about the work to be done to take up the interrupted dialogue again and to fill the void which had been created. This wasn’t simply a pure ambition - although legitimate - but it was a true necessity in an area which so often praises its own noble origins and thousands of years of history and civilisation in which its roots are based, without committing to constant behaviour - especially collective behaviour - which is coherent with a vision of harmonic cultural growth which can match up to that of the past. So honouring the memory of one of the most famous citizens of Siracusa, Elio Vittorini, isn’t only an act which should be a given but it’s also an important step along the path of the virtuous development of the area which isn’t under the shadow of the industrial chimneys anymore but which has to bet on an industry of culture around which many talents, energy and resources should be gathered. So it isn’t a Prize which is only used to commemorate once a year, but it’s a moment of dialogue and confrontation which, one hopes, will with time become as engaging as possible.
The finalists of the 2021 Premio Vittorini
In this light, the numbers of the 2021 edition “speak” volumes and seem to tell us that we have taken the right path: 59 authors took part from over 40 publishing houses, including most of the important realities of the Italian publishing scene. The 2021 edition - which will end on Saturday the 4th of September at the Teatro Comunale di Siracusa - will also mark the debut of an intense three days which from the 1st of September will make the Old Market of Ortigia the stage for a series of events of music, theatre, conversations, contests (with a dive into the world of comics marking the relationship between Umberto Eco from Alessandria and the Siracusan Elio Vittorini) which will aim to take the city by the hand and lead it towards the final appointment in which the memory of Arnaldo Lombardi, to whom the Prize for Independent Publishing is dedicated, will be honoured.
Secretary general of the National Literary Prize Elio Vittorini, professional journalist, he worked for the Gazzetta del Sud and the Agenzia ANSA and has worked for various Rai and Mediaset programmes. He is the author of numerous publications and essays tied to aspects of journalism. Lately for Media&Books Edizioni he published Completamente Falso Praticamente Vero which analises the “power” of fake news during the pandemic. He inspired and animated various awareness campaigns tied to the activities of the antiracket movement. For his activities as a journalist and as a writer, he has obtained different awards on a national level.