By THEA LENARDUZZI
If you don’t count the one-woman sensation that is Elena Ferrante – whose agile prose has found her not a few (well-deserved) admirers in our recent Summer Books feature – Italian literature has been having a rather tough time of it in recent years (recent decades, some would say). When I left Italy for England in 2004, Ugo Riccarelli’s Il dolore perfetto had just won the Strega prize, Paola Mastrocola had won the Campiello with Una barca nel bosco, and Franco Cordero had taken the Bagutta for Le strane regole del sig. B. A cursory search suggests that I was the only one of us to make it to England. Statistics haven't improved much in the past ten years. Of last year's winners – Francesco Piccolo, Giorgio Fontana, Maurizio Cucchi and Valerio Magrelli (joint winners of the Bagutta) – only Magrelli, and to a lesser extent, Cucchi, are likely to ring any bells among English readers (Magrelli's poetry in particular, translated by Jamie McKendrick, has been praised highly in the TLS).