Literary writing works on a different time scale than the tumultuous flow of news that we live in. How can a literary story, taking months or years in the writing, try and reflect the turns and shocks of a world that seems to change radically day by day? Yet, there are novelists and storytellers who undertake the task of addressing the turmoil of real-time contemporaneity or the very recent turns of history – whether it is global anxieties, financial crashes, the rise of new demagogues, or the moral dilemmas of our times.
Ali Smith has won numerous prizes for her literary work, including the Baileys Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize, the Costa Novel Award, and has been shortlisted for many others including the Man Booker and the European Strega Prize. With Autumn (2016), heralded as the “first great Brexit novel”, she started an in-progress quartet of novels whose second instalment, Winter, was published in 2017.
Olivia Laing is a novelist and cultural critic. In 2016, her book The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone was named a Book of the Year in many publications including the Guardian, Observer, Telegraph and Times Literary Supplement. Her new novel, Crudo (Picador 2018), partially set in Italy during the summer of 2017, has been described as “a funny and emphatically raw account of love in the apocalypse”.
Walter Siti is a novelist and literary critic. In his academic career, he has focused on Neorealism and contemporary Italian poetry; he edited the complete works of Pier Paolo Pasolini for Mondadori. In his novels, Siti explores themes such as television, sex, and the commodification of human experience. With Resistere non serve a niente he won the Strega Prize in 2013. His latest novel is Bontà (Einaudi, October 2018).
Chair: Fabio Deotto is an Italian writer and translator. As a journalist he writes about literature, culture, technology. His last novel is Un attimo prima (2017).