WINNER OF THE PREMIO CAVALLINI 2011
WINNER OF THE PREMIO BAGUTTA 2007
"The Italian Joseph Conrad” Libero
“A 20th Century Balzac” Il Giornale
Colonial Tales, the second volume of Alessandro Spina's historical epic, The Confines of The Shadow!
After the success of the first volume of Alessandro Spina's historical epic, The Confines of The Shadow, with the exceptional translation by André Naffis-Sahely, Darf Publishers is proud to present the second collection of novels/novellas and short stories dealing with Italian colonial history in North Africa.
The Confines of the Shadow is a sequence of novels and short stories that map the transformation of the Libyan city of Benghazi from a sleepy Ottoman backwater in the 1910s to the second capital of an oil-rich kingdom in the 1960s.
Alessandro Spina's saga begins in November 1912 with The Young Maronite, which sees Italian soldiers solidifying their control over Libya's coasts, leaving Libyan rebels to withdraw to the desert and prepare for a war that would last until 1931, when by dint of sheer brutality, including the internment of tens of thousands of civilians into concentration camps, the Italians crushed the rebellion and murdered its widely respected leader, Omar al-Mukhtar. Employing a cosmopolitan array of characters, ranging from Ottoman functionaries, to Sanussi aristocrats and Italian officers, Spina chronicles Italy's colonial experience from the euphoria of conquest - giving us a front row seat to the rise and subsequent fall of Fascism in the aftermath of World War II - to the country's independence in the 1950s.
Spina finally concludes his narrative with the discovery of Libya's vast oil and gas reserves, which triggered the tumultuous changes that led to Muammar Gaddafi's forty-two-year dictatorship.
Distinguishing themselves by their intimate understanding of East and West, the novels that comprise The Confines of the Shadow are among the most significant achievements of 20th-century fiction and stand unchallenged as the only multi-generational epic about the European experience in North Africa.
The short stories which comprise the second volume of The Confines of the Shadow, Colonial Tales, are set in the inter-war period, between the late 1920s, when Italy began solidifying its power in its new Libyan colony, and the end of World War II, when control of the country passed into British hands. Spina’s chief subjects in these stories are Italian military officers who idle their time away at their club or exploring the strange lands where they have been posted, always at odds between the jingoistic education they received at home and the lessons they’ve learned during their time in Libya.
Read an exclusive excerpt of the second volume of this epic book:
Praise for The Confine of the Shadow
“Spina has deep and subtle literary sensibility. The rich and varied prose is peppered with aphorisms that reveal a psychological as well as philosophical depth… Spina is a novelist more interested in history than in consciousness. Where he distinguishes himself is in offering such a comprehensive work about a particular colonial experience… His work provides a rare and valuable perspective on the history of Italy and Libya and, more generally, European colonialism in the Middle East.” Hisham Matar - The Times Literary Supplement
“Spina approaches the question of colonialism from all angles, as it were: historical, allegorical, psychological, and satirical… Spina’s prose itself is theatrical. He can set the stage quickly. His stories have great beginnings and endings, the curtain snapping open and shut upon dramatic scenes; his characters make memorable entrances.” Ursula Lindsey- The Nation “Don't expect from Spina polished late-imperial romance of the sort that fans of the twilight-of-the-Raj school, from Paul Scott to Vikram Seth, know and love. True, he does create Forsterian figures, anguished doubters torn between two worlds, but these stories also experiment with alternatives to realism.” Boyd Tonkin – The Independent
“Spina created a fictional space where Italians and Libyans met in the imagination, within “the confines of the shadow” of colonialism, whose “dark days, afflicted by a collective anguish,” cast a pall over every aspect of life… Spina’s lack of emphasis sets him apart from all but a very few other novelists writing in Italian.” Erik Noonan – The Tupelo Quarterly
“Spina’s colourful tales of unrequited love, betrayal, and revenge spring from a cacophony of diverse voices who despite fundamental differences share a felt burden: a public duty to uphold the values of their own society while experiencing private misgivings about the infallibility of those values.” – World Literature Today
“Confines of the Shadow is a house of many mansions. It has sections that are fable-like, others that are more suggestive of a bildungsroman. It is a novel of manners, a drawing room or domestic comedy. It is tragic, and it is polemical.” Seth Messigner – The Sultan’s Seal
was the nom de plume of Basili Shafik Khouzam, who was born into a family of Syrian Maronites in Benghazi in 1927. His first story was published by Alberto Moravia in 1955 and he maintained a steady literary output throughout his life, counting many eminent Italian writers as admirers. His work was shortlisted for the Strega and Campiello prizes and, when it was published in full, The Confines of the Shadow was awarded the Bagutta Prize.
He was born in Venice to an Iranian father and an Italian mother, but raised in Abu Dhabi. He was later educated in Britain. His nonfiction writing has appeared in The Nation, The Economist, The Times Literary Supplement, The Paris Review Daily, Poetry, New Statesman, The Independent, The White Review and The Chimurenga Chronic. He has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Dar al-Ma'mûn. He has translated over twenty titles of fiction and poetry from the Italian and the French, including works by Honoré de Balzac, Émile Zola, Alessandro Spina, Abdellatif Laâbi and Tahar Ben Jelloun. The Promised Land: Poems from Itinerant Life (Penguin, 2017) is his debut collection of poetry. He currently teaches at the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles and at Whittier College. He is also a Visiting Teaching Fellow at the Manchester Writing School.
Darf Publishers commissioned the South African artist Morné Visagie to produce a cover for The Confines of the Shadow. This is his description of the photograph:
In the 1700’s two exiles on Robben Island, the one being a Khoi man, and the other a Dutch Sailor, were romantically involved. After ten years they were sentenced to death on charges of homosexuality. "On 19 August 1735 the two men had weights tied to their bodies, and somewhere between the Cape and Robben Island were dropped into the ocean to drown, a death no doubt designed to cleanse the earth of their polluting presence” (Nigel Penn 1992). This photograph was taken in 2010, halfway between Robben Island, where I grew up, and the Cape Town harbour.
Morné will also produce a limited edition series of prints of his photograph, which are available through this Kickstarter campaign.
is based in Cape Town and was ranked one of the leading Young African Artists by Business Day WANTED in 2013. Visagie Graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2011 and is a printer at Cape Town's only fine art printmaking studio, Warren Editions. Last year, his debut collaborative exhibition with Mbongeni Dlamini, 'Far From The Sea, Perhaps...', was shown at Whatiftheworld / Gallery.
Risks and challenges
Darf Publishers has set unique reputation as producers of a fine quality of translated fiction and non-fiction from around the world.
The first volume of (The Confines of The Shadow) was positively reviewed in many newspapers and journals. The second volume has already been translated and is going through the editing phase and we want to make sure that the production of the book will meet the high quality that our readers expect.
The rewards will be delivered from March 2018 onwards.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)