Epigraph to the Novel Snow Falling on Cedars – David Guterson

“In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost. Ah, how hard a thing it is to tell what a wild , and rough, and stubborn wood this was, which in my thought renews the fear!”    –David Guterson, Epigraph to Snow Falling on Cedars, September 1994

Check out Snow Falling on Cedars on Amazon here.

Contributed by Daniel Christian.

Christopher R. Miller, “Purgatory Is for Real” (Review of G. Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo)

“The afterlife has also been having a cultural moment in recent fiction, but typically in the form of something other than heaven—call it, for lack of a better word, purgatory. In the popular television series The Good Place, the vaguely named realm of the title turns out to be something else entirely, and its characters find they have their ethical work cut out for them. Two recent novels have also set their action in a postmortem limbo, with similar narrative implications: George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo (2017) and the Finnish author Laura Lindstedt’s Oneiron (just published in an English translation by Owen F. Witesman) imagine versions of the bardo, the Tibetan Buddhist transitional state between death and rebirth.

[. . .]

“From the perspective of the petal-scented heaven that Saunders intimates, the ghosts are the myopic schlemiels, but their fear of ‘leaving behind forever the beautiful things of this world’ takes on a touchingly quixotic grandeur. Writ large, their sense of peril, uncertainty, and loss has obvious allegorical resonance, suggesting both the president’s interminable state of mourning and the nation’s passage through war and precarious rebirth. In this, Saunders’s bardo is not unlike Dante’s purgatory—a place of unfinished business, nostalgic longing, imaginative engagement with the living, and above all, therapeutic forms of work.”   — Christopher R. Miller, “Purgatory Is for Real,” Public Books, May 23, 2018

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (1970)

“Thus [Soaphead Church] chose to remember Hamlet’s abuse of Ophelia, but not Christ’s love of Mary Magdalene; Hamlet’s frivolous politics, but not Christ’s serious anarchy. He noticed Gibbon’s acidity, but not his tolerance, Othello’s love for the fair Desdemona, but not Iago’s perverted love of Othello. The works he admired most were Dante’s; those he despised most were Dostoyevsky’s. For all his exposure to the best minds of the Western world, he allowed only the narrowest interpretation to touch him. He responded to his father’s controlled violence by developing hard habits and a soft imagination. A hatred of, and fascination with, any hint of disorder or decay.

“At seventeen, however, he met his Beatrice, who was three years his senior.”   –Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (1970)

For more on this passage, see Dennis Looney, Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy (University of Notre Dame Press, 2011), pp. 183-188.

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

“So under the spell of the reefer I discovered a new analytical way of listening to music. The unheard sounds came through, and each melodic line existed of itself, stood out clearly from all the rest, said its piece, and waited patiently for the other voices to speak. That night I found myself hearing not only in time, but in space as well. I not only entered the music but descended, like Dante, into its depths. And beneath the swiftness of the hot tempo there was a slower tempo and a cave and I entered it and looked around and heard an old woman singing a spiritual as full of Weltschmerz as flamenco, and beneath that lay a still lower level on which I saw a beautiful girl the color of ivory pleading in a voice like my mother’s as she stood before a group of slaveowners who bid for her naked body, and below that I found a lower level and a more rapid tempo and I heard someone shout:

“‘Brothers and sisters, my text this morning is the “Blackness of Blackness.” ’”   –Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

This extract is available to read at Penguin Books.

Bianca Garavelli, Le Terzine Perdute di Dante (2015)

Bianca Garavelli’s Le terzine perdute di Dante is a historical thriller that follows the affairs of the poet himself, in exile in Paris, and a contemporary scholar who appears to have discovered the poet’s autograph in a manuscript in Milan. The novel was published by BUR Rizzoli in 2015.

“Parigi, 1309. Dante, in esilio, stanco e spaventato, vive nel terrore di essere perseguitato dai suoi numerosi nemici. Una delle sue poche consolazioni è la compagnia di una donna misteriosa, Marguerite Porete, una mistica accusata di eresia della quale Dante diventa il miglior allievo, e che lo conduce nel centro di una guerra spietata fra due ordini che agiscono nell’ombra. In gioco c’è un pericoloso segreto, una profezia di cui l’Alighieri è il depositario prescelto. Ed è il filologo medievale Riccardo Donati a mettersi sulle tracce di quel mistero centinaia di anni dopo, nella Milano dei giorni nostri: mentre esamina un antico manoscritto si imbatte in quella che ha tutta l’aria di essere la firma autografa di Dante. Sarà l’inizio di una vorticosa e inattesa avventura che stravolgerà per sempre la vita di Riccardo, e non solo. Un romanzo sospeso tra passato e presente, tra storia, letteratura e azione, per un thriller storico che si trasforma in una caccia all’uomo frenetica e appassionante.”  —BUR

See more at Bianca Garavelli’s website here.

Patrizia Tamà, La Quarta Cantica (2010)

Patrizia Tamà’s La Quarta Cantica (Mondadori, 2010), the first of a trilogy featuring a protagonist named Beatrice Maureeno, is a historical crime thriller with a Dantesque premise: it pivots on the existence of a previously undiscovered, mysterious fourth canticle.

“Una giovane donna si aggira in stato confusionale per la stazione di Firenze. Non ricorda più nulla: chi è, come si chiama, perché è lì. Eppure non è una vagabonda qualsiasi. Lo intuisce il misterioso clochard che la soccorre. E se ne rendono subito conto i medici dell’Ospedale di Santa Maria Nuova, dove viene ricoverata. Grazie alle cure di un medico che pareva aspettarla come un dono, comincerà presto a dissolversi la nebbia che le riempie la mente e lei vedrà a poco a poco riemergere se stessa, l’identità che credeva perduta. Scoprirà così di essere una studiosa di materie dantesche, inglese ma di origini italiane, giunta a Firenze sulle tracce di un segreto antico, che da settecento anni scorre nell’ombra come un fiume sotterraneo. Ricorderà di chiamarsi Beatrice. Ma le sue sono ricerche pericolose, conducono in Germania, in Turchia, e possono costare la vita, perché non è la sola a dare la caccia a una verità dirompente. [. . .] Davvero il Sommo Dante concepì una Quarta Cantica? E di che cosa si tratta? Davvero la occultò perché fosse consegnata ai posteri in un’epoca finalmente pronta alle sue rivelazioni?” — Google Books

For more, see the review on the blog Il sussurro delle Muse.

“Why Roberto Bolaño Haunts Latin Literature”

“A frustrated poet, he turned to prose in his 30s to pay his bills—and shone. Many of his novels may seem facile, packed with talky introspection and postpubescent brooding, but in fact are densely layered tales, with scores of narrators, soaked in erudition and mordant social comment. A ferocious reader, Bolaño wrote with Cervantes, Dante, and Homer looking over his shoulder.”    –Mac Margolis, Newsweek, April 16, 2012

Dario Crapanzano, Il furto della Divina Commedia (2019)

“Milano 1954, Michele Esposito, preside in un liceo di Città Studi, ha una grande passione: i libri antichi, nei quali investe la maggior parte delle sue entrate. Grazie a un’eredità riesce ad acquistare, per ben quattro milioni di lire, l’incunabolo di una Divina Commedia del Quattrocento. Una copia rara e preziosa che il preside presenta solennemente al corpo docente dell’istituto. Quando, uno dei giorni seguenti, il libro sparisce dalla cassaforte della scuola, a indagare viene chiamato Fausto Lorenzi, un ispettore dagli occhi «di ghiaccio».

“Chi poteva conoscere la combinazione della cassaforte? Molti sono i sospettati: i docenti e anche la storica segretaria, che molti definiscono la vera preside. E quando viene scoperto un omicidio, Lorenzi collega subito il delitto al furto.

“Ma il mistero rimane fitto…

“Nella consueta atmosfera vintage della Milano anni Cinquanta, tra cinema fumosi e antiche librerie antiquarie, Dario Crapanzano costruisce un giallo appassionante e crea, dopo Mario Arrigoni, un nuovo personaggio investigatore, che sorprenderà i lettori e che proverà a risolvere lo strano caso del furto della Divina Commedia.”    — Mondadori

Contributed by Ludovica Valentini (Florida State University, MA ’18)

Draco’s Marriage Pact: The Dante Inferno (2020) by Day Leclaire

The Dante Inferno: Draco’s Marriage Pact was written by Day Leclaire and will be published by DLI Publishing on April 17th, 2020.

“When Draco Dante experiences The Inferno with Dante family rival, Shayla Charleston, he isn’t the least opposed. In fact, he sweeps her off her feet and straight into his bed. What he doesn’t expect is for her to disappear after their one night of passion. Unwilling to let her go and with The Inferno burning in his veins, he spends months searching for her … only to discover Shayla is expecting his baby. Like, now!

“On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, Shayla Charleston has three goals. 1. Make sure her grandmother is taken care of. 2. Take off for Europe with her new boss. 3. Experience a one-night stand. Instead, she ends up in bed with the one man she should avoid at all costs … a Dante, her grandmother’s nemesis. [. . .]

Draco’s Marriage Pact is Book #7 in The Dante Inferno: the Dante Dynasty Series, a contemporary romance series by USA Today bestselling author and eleven-time RITA© (Romance Writers of America) finalist, Day Leclaire. This story features passionate Italian-American heroes, the scorching connection of The Inferno, and a sizzling romance between soul mates.”    —Amazon

James Becker, The Dante Conspiracy (2018)

The Dante Conspiracy was written by James Becker and published by Canelo Adventure (May 28th, 2018).

“When the body of a poetry professor is found tortured in a deserted barn outside Florence, Inspector Perini is assigned to the case.

“No murder of passion, it is clearly a professional job. When, hours later, thieves break into Dante’s cenotaph, it seems the two crimes may be connected by some missing verses from the Divine Comedy.

“They could contain a code so valuable someone is willing to murder for it. But who? And why? As the bodies pile up, Perini is in a deadly race to find the secret before the killers. The truth will prove more shocking than he could have possibly imagined…” [. . .]    —Amazon