Rosa sospirosa

Annalucia Lomunno (b. 1972, Castellanata) is an exciting and versatile author from the region of Puglia. Her first novel, Rosa sospirosa (Sighing Rosa) (Piemme, 2001) was a finalist for Italy’s Premio Strega, which is the country’s highest literary prize. She has written two other novels, Nero sud (Black South) (Piemme, 2003), which is a sequel to Rosa Sospirosa, and the psycho-thriller Troppe donne per un delitto (Too Many Women For a Crime) (Marinotti, 2009). In 2010, a panel of distinguished literary experts named Lomunno one of Italy’s most promising authors under the age of 40.

Rosa Sospirosa is the unconventional story of Rosa and her group of friends, who range in age from 19 to 23 and live with their parents because of the dire economic conditions of the South. Rosa is depressed because her love for her amico del cuore (friend of the heart) is unrequited. To make things worse, her amico del cuore abruptly moves to Amsterdam in search of work. Strangely, however, the amico del cuore is spotted around town even though he has been calling Rosa from abroad. Meanwhile, some of Rosa’s friends have left the group, and bizarre rumors are going around about who they’re hanging out with and why. Rosa and her remaining friends decide to investigate the odd goings-on, and what they discover is an example of the things that can happen to young people who are immersed in a consumer culture with no real prospect of a future.

To depict both the dialogue and narration in Rosa Sospirosa, Lomunno utilizes an avant garde style of writing that is characterized by short sentences, linguistic experimentation and non-standard punctuation and formatting. The result is a rapid-fire language that is intentionally disenchanted and superficial, and yet at times musical and even poetic. For two of the characters, Lomunno systematically eliminates the final vowel of words (see the entries for pelliccia, cisburghèr and pleistesciòn) to evoke the rhythm of the local dialect. To capture the complex, post-modern speech patterns of young people in Puglia, she uses a variety of languages and language forms including dialect, regional Italian, slang, anglicisms, approximations and experimental terms.

‘ndumma (Ital. una ragazza tonta e ingenua; Eng. a dumb, naive girl)
Non ci possiamo vedere… ma se non vado diranno che sono una ’ndumma!
(We can’t see each other… but if I don’t go they’ll say I’m a dumb, naive girl!)

fruschola (Ital. una ragazza maliziosa e furba; Eng. a malicious and crafty girl)
Però, Chi’, Mariella è una fruschola! Una sfascia famiglie!
But, Chi’, Mariella is a malicious and crafty girl! She’s a family-wrecker!

gnummeredde (Ital. involtini di fegato e budella; Eng. liver and entrails rolls)
Frittelle di ricotta orecchiette rucola e patate gnummeredde al prosciutto.
Ricotta doughnuts orecchiette arugula and potatoes prosciutto rolls.

percoche (Ital. pesche; Eng. peaches)
Perchè una volta mio padre gli chiese una puttanata, una cosa che riguardava il condominio, che non stette manco dieci minute a parlare e quel pezzo di merda si frecò trecento cucuzze e due chili di percoche.
Because one time my father asked him some small-ass thing, something about the condominium, that didn’t take even ten minutes to answer and that piece of shit got himself three hundred pumpkins (i.e., bucks) and two kilos of peaches.

pelliccia (literally, fur but used to mean annoyingly drunk or totally wasted)
Andiamocen! Se bev un altro poc, mi facc una pellicc!
(Ital. Andiamocene! Se bevo un altro poco, mi faccio una pelliccia!
Eng. Let’s go! If I drink any more, I’ll get totally wasted!)

far scendere il latte (literally, to make the milk come but used to mean Ital. annoiare; Eng. to bore)
Questi scalzacani mi fanno scendere il latte.
(These incompetent losers bore me.)

bikinate (bikinied)
Schierati e avidi, conficcano gli occhi nelle… femmine bikinate di passaggio.
(Lined up and greedy, they nail their eyes onto the… bikinied women passing by.)

freezerizzati (freezered)
Chicca li ha freezerizzati appena infornato e sfornati.
(Chicca freezered them just baked and out of the oven.)

cisburghèr (the Italian spelling of how Italians say cheeseburger)
Sta un local che ti mangi un cisburghèr e puoi navigar in internèt… Quand andiam?
(Ital. Sta un locale che ti mangi un cisburghèr e puoi navigare in internèt… Quando andiamo?
Eng. It’s a place where you eat a cheeseburger and you can surf the Internet… When are we going?)

pleistesciòn (the Italian spelling of how Italians say PlayStation)
Uff! Potev restar a giocar col pleistesciòn!
(Ital. Uffa! Potevo restare a giocare col pleistesciòn!
Eng. Man! I could have stayed to play PlayStation!)

costumino ino ino (little bathing suit with the dimunitive -ino, which means little, repeated twice)
Allo Sporting’s club nessuno rinuncia al costumino ino ino.
(At the Sporting’s club no one goes without their little little little bathing suit.)

scìkk (chic spelled with the letter “k,” which doesn’t exist in the Italian alphabet but is a feature of chat and text language)
Rosa legge la rivista scìkk.
(Rosa is reading the chic magazine.)

Note: There is one other language in Rosa Sospirosa that is worthy of mention: Latin. Rosa frequently comments in Latin in the narration and refers to many of her friends using only their Latin nicknames. My favorite example is her wealthy friend Summa Frigens Polyporum (Greatest Fryer of Octopus), who clearly earned her nickname because of her expert octopus-frying skills.

Also hilarious are the many exclamatory terms used by the characters. Two that I will forever associate with this book are capapizza (an exclamation of surprise or dismay) and cazzaròl (an abbreviation of cazzarola, which is an exclamation of annoyance that is a variant of Ital. casseruola; Eng. casserole).

On Facebook: Annalucia Lomunno has a Facebook page, so be sure to check it out. Readers frequently post comments on her page, and she always kindly responds.


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