“L’età fragile” by Donatella Di Pietrantonio sweeps everyone at the 2024 Strega Prize


By John

Donatella Di Pietrantonio wins the 2024 Strega Prize by a wide marginGiven as the super favorite from the beginning, the writer who had already won the Strega Giovani 2024, surpassed everyone with 189 votes for ‘L’età fragile’ (Einaudi)dedicated to survivors, in which through the relationship between a mother, Lucia, and her twenty-two-year-old daughter Amanda, she has broken down stereotypes about the age and safety of small provincial towns, with the pandemic in the background.

In the book for the first time the writer, who has never left her profession as a children’s dentist, she also addressed gender violence by recalling a crime story that happened in 1997 in her homeland, Abruzzo. “I promise that I will use my written and oral voice in defense of rights that my generation of women fought so hard for and that today are no longer taken for granted” said excitedly and radiantly in a black and pink Etro dress with decorations and a necklace with a lucky angel around her neck, the writer, at her fourth time at the Strega, (in 2021 in the top five with Borgo sud) and already winner of the Campiello Prize in 2017 with Arminuta.

Dario Voltolini maintained second placewhere he surprisingly placed in the first vote in Benevento, with 143 votes for Invernale (La nave di Teseo), a powerful story of the last years of his father’s life. And she remained in third place with a gap of 5 votes, Chiara Valerio 138 preferences, for Chi dice e chi tace (Sellerio), which takes us to Scauri, her hometown and lets us enter into the feelings and prejudices and the axiom of the unknowability of the other through Lea’s story. The evening opened with the six finalists who went up on the stage, moved closer to the audience, with signs in their hands that spelled out the phrase ‘Books are in the running, those who write them are not’ in full harmony with the spirit that animated the long tour of 20 stages that always saw them complicit and supportive, amused and ready to joke with each other. The ceremony was blessed with a touch of glamour that saw fashion conquer the Strega, Chiara Valerio who recalled Michela Murgia, wore an all-white Dior suit with trousers and jacket, Raffaella Romagnolo a long black glittery Missoni dress, Dario Voltolini and Paolo Di Paolo had a classic suit by Lardini and Tommaso Giartosio a navy blue suit by Gucci.

The six in the running, instead of the usual five, saw Raffaella Romagnolo arrive fourth with Aggiustare l’universo (Mondadori), 83 votes, fifth Di Paolo with Romanzo senza umani (Feltrinelli), 66 votes, at his second time at the Strega Prize and sixth Giartosio with Autobiogrammatica (minimum fax), 25 votes. The live television broadcast on Rai3 with the dual hosting of Geppi Cucciari, who returns for the fourth consecutive time and Pino Strabioli, already hosting in 2016 and 2019, started at 11:00 pm with the reinstatement of the live counting of 100 ballots for the first time. Less crowded than usual, the Ninfeo which over the years has hosted over a thousand guests. About three hundred fewer people attended this edition, all seated on white chairs arranged in a semicircle, including the president of the Culture Commission of the Chamber Federico Mollicone, the president of the Maxxi Alessandro Giuli, Corrado Augias, and the heads of the publishing houses and publishing groups.

Among the writers Francesco Piccolo, the director of the Turin Book Fair Annalena Benini, Dacia Maraini, Sandro Veronesi, Teresa Ciabatti, Paolo Giordano. Notable absentees include the Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano and the Extraordinary Government Commissioner for Italy, Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Mauro Mazza. The president of the Italian Publishers Association, Innocenzo Cipolletta, was present instead. “We do not have the joy of hosting people from the government,” Geppi Cucciari said during the live broadcast and, addressing Mollicone who had gone up on stage, he stated: ‘A question at your discretion, say what you think’. “Let’s give a big round of applause to Strega,” replied the president of the Culture Commission of the Chamber, announcing “we approved the National Reading Plan yesterday.” The director of the Bellonci Foundation, Stefano Petrocchi, presided over the polling station, replacing the winner of the last edition, Ada d’Adamo, who died on April 1, 2023, who would have been awarded the position as per tradition. Out of 700 voters, 644 expressed their preferences, equal to 92% of those entitled to vote.