Melania G. Mazzucco
Limbo
A novel, Einaudi, March 2012, 484 pages

Premio Elsa Morante 2012
Premio Bottari Lattes Grinzane 2013
Premio Giacomo Matteotti 2013
International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2016 – Nominee

From the novel, a tv movie produced by Fandango TV in collaboration with Rai Fiction starring Kasia Smutniak, winner of the Roma Fiction Fest award for best actress

“What is remarkable about Limbo… is the dreaminess it brings to a story of brutality and the defiance with which it upends the conventions that have come to define the war stories of our time.”
The Daily Beast

“Mazzucco (Vita) dazzles in her latest novel, treating readers to a wonderfully paced love story set against a backdrop of modern warfare… Her training as a soldier means her assessments are clear-eyed and unsentimental, which only adds to their emotional weight. Mazzucco’s finely drawn portraits of soldiers are excellent, but her aim is broader: a love story for rational people, providing complex answers to universal questions about recovering from trauma.”
Publishers Weekly (Read full Review)

A novel about losing yourself in a war and finding yourself in love.

It’s Christmas Eve and twenty-seven-year-old Manuela Paris is returning home to a seaside town outside Rome. Years ago, she left to become a soldier. Then, Manuela was fleeing an unhappy, rebellious adolescence; with anger, determination, and sacrifice she painstakingly built the life she dreamed of as a platoon commander in the Afghan desert.
Now, she’s fleeing something else entirely: the memory of a bloody attack that left her seriously injured. Her wounds have plunged her into in a very different and no less insidious war: against flashbacks, disillusionment, pain, and victimhood.
Numb and adrift, she is startled to life by an encounter with a mysterious stranger, a man without a past who is, like her, suspended in his own private limbo of expectation and hope. Their relationship—confusing, invigorating—forces her to confront her past and the secrets she, and those closest to her, are hiding.
In chapters that toggle between Manuela at home, grappling with her new life, and Manuela in Afghanistan, coming to terms with her role as a leader of fighting men and a peacemaker in a country that doesn’t seem to want her help, Melania G. Mazzucco limns a story of love and loss, death and resistance in terms both surprising and cathartic. Limbo asks its readers, no less than its protagonist, what it means to be a daughter, a sister, a woman, a citizen, a soldier—or, more simply, a human.

Melania G. Mazzucco

Melania G. Mazzucco was born and lives in Rome. She is the author of Il bacio della Medusa (1996), La camera di Baltus (1998), Lei così amata (2000, Premio Napoli), about the writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Vita (2003, Premio Strega), Un giorno perfetto (2005), on which was based the movie with the same title by Ferzan Ozpetek, and two works about the Italian Renaissance painter Tintoretto: the novel La lunga attesa dell’angelo (2008, Premio Bagutta) and the essay Jacomo Tintoretto e i suoi figli (2009, Premio Comisso). In 2011 she received the Premio letterario Viareggio-Tobino as Author of the Year. Then, she wrote Limbo (2012, Premio Elsa Morante, Premio Rhegium Julii, Premio Matteotti, Premio Bottari Lattes Grinzane), Il bassotto e la Regina (2012, Premio Frignano Ragazzi 2013), Sei come sei (2013), Il museo del mondo (2014), in which she narrates 54 works of art, Io sono con te (2016, Rai Radio 3 Fahrenheit‘s Book of the Year), L’architettrice (2019, Premio Alassio, Premio Capalbio). In 2020 she won the Premio alla Carriera John Fante. She created and wrote the docu-film Tintoretto. A Rebel in Venice, a 2019 Sky Arts original production distributed in cinemas all over the world. She wrote for the theatre, the cinema and the radio and is a contributor to la Repubblica. Her books have been translated in 27 languages.

 

 

“What is remarkable about Limbo… is the dreaminess it brings to a story of brutality and the defiance with which it upends the conventions that have come to define the war stories of our time.”
The Daily Beast

“Mazzucco (Vita) dazzles in her latest novel, treating readers to a wonderfully paced love story set against a backdrop of modern warfare… Her training as a soldier means her assessments are clear-eyed and unsentimental, which only adds to their emotional weight. Mazzucco’s finely drawn portraits of soldiers are excellent, but her aim is broader: a love story for rational people, providing complex answers to universal questions about recovering from trauma.”
Publishers Weekly (Read full Review)

“The novel fills an important gap in addressing the lives of female soldiers (and non-American ones) . . . An important addition to 21st-century war literature.”
Kirkus Reviews

“With exceptional writing and a masterly grasp of storytelling, Mazzucco offers such a realistic portrayal of the war in Afghanistan and its aftermath that you would bet she was actually there, living through it all. An excellent translation, too.”
Lisa Rohrbaugh, Library Journal

“Melania Mazzucco has proven herself to be a gifted storyteller, able to touch deeply the human soul.”
Le Monde

“With such a book Melania Mazzucco reminds us why novels are unequalled instruments of human knowing.”
Gran Angular

“[Limbo has] all the characteristics of a grand contemporary novel, of the kind we haven’t read in years… Limbo must be read (its masterful and precise language, its delightful dialogue aside) because the book offers a great deal of food for thought: on what we are and how we tackle our own existence in this world.”
Wlodek Goldkorn, l’Espresso

“What’s thrumming through the pages of Limbo is a great unease, which troubles the whole more than is immediately apparent, given the narrative’s momentum. This isn’t a novel about the war in Afghanistan—or not only that. It pushes us to reflect on responsibility, on the challenges we put ourselves up to, on the traces they leave in us and, more fleetingly, on the outside world.”
Paolo di Paolo,Il Sole 24 Ore

“Mazzucco writes with a great evocative ability. On one hand, landscapes and characters from Lazio’s coast. On the other, Central Asia deserts, missions, companions, afghan misery, gunfire and attacks. All painted with great brightness and empathy.”
Corriere della Sera

“Mazzucco’s novels are always something separate from their ‘plots.’ They are life itself, life that spreads itself impetuously . . . ‘Limbo’ is a place where souls wander, knowing that they cannot aspire to a higher realm. But, in their incompleteness, they know that there exists a reality where desire, hope, and love are neither illicit nor prohibited. Mazzucco represents this human tension: all the more significant when it rises, as in the cases of the characters of this novel, from beneath; but always present for anyone who exists on the other side of silly fairy tales.”
Alberto Asor Rosa, la Repubblica

“[Mazzucco] documents with a kind of maniacal scrupulousness, but it’s the quality of the narration that transfigures the material . . . Though we know from the very first how it will end, tension builds page by page, supported by the linguistic flexibility of her various tones, by the quality of a thousand details, from her ability to make each individual destiny a choral one . . . Few Italian writers are capable of producing such broad and specifically weighty works. A great demonstration of force and maturity.”
Ernesto Ferrero, Tuttolibri

“Mazzucco renders both Lazio’s landscape, its dilapidated coast, and Afghanistan’s, infinite and desolate, impeccably. She is peerless in her movements between the Italian family and the platoon of men that Manuela commands.”
Massimo Onofri, Avvenire

“Courage is the only thing that can’t be taught. You either have it, or you don’t. Not merely the courage to rescue a handful of soldiers, but also the courage to fall in love… Limbo… is a story of love and of longing. Between two human beings, between a human being, the family she is born into, and the family she has chosen; between her own expectations and possibilities, and the expectations and possibilities of her generation . . . Mazzucco… unspools a story at once potent, sweet, and broken.”
Chiara Valerio, Vanity Fair

“An astonishing blend of charm.”
Gazzetta del Sud

“Very beautiful pages.”
l’Unità

“An inspired and intense reconstruction of Manuela Paris’ psychology, personality and life.”
La Provincia di Cremona

“For women Limbo is something to be proud of.”
Il Tempo

Limbo has an edge: it’s warm, it has a heart.”
ComUnità, Unità.it

Foreign rights sold in
Denmark: Turbine
France: Flammarion
The Netherlands: Atlas-Contact
Poland: Wab-Foksal
Serbia: Sezam Book
Spain and South America: Anagrama
Sweden: Contempo
US and UK: Farrar Straus and Giroux

Italian and international editions

Foreign publishers of Melania G. Mazzucco’s works
Albania: Albas
Bulgaria: Uniscorp, Jelenkor
Canada: HarperCollins, Harper Perennial
China: Horizon
Croatia: Oceanmore
Denmark: Tellerup, Turbine
Finland: Avain
France: Flammarion, J’ai lu, Editions du Club
Germany, Austria and Switzerland: Piper, Knaus, btb, Hoffmann und Campe
Georgia: Sulakauri
Greece: Diigisi, Modern Times
Hungary: Európa Könyvkiadó
Israel: Schocken, Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir
Japan: Michitani
Korea: Random House Corea
The Netherlands and Belgium: Mouria, Atlas-Contact
Norway: Cappelen
Poland: Wab-Foksal
Romania: Polirom
Russia: Ast
Serbia: Mono j Manjana, Sezam Book
Spain and South America: Seix Barral, Planeta, Anagrama
Sweden: Norsteds, Contempo
Turkey: Yapi Kredi Culture and Arts, Doğan Kitap
UK: Pushkin
US and UK: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Picador, Thornedike Press

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