UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Re-discovering Alessandro Spina’s Transculture/ality in The Young Maronite Dagnino, Arianna

Abstract

Alessandro Spina, né Basili Shafik Khouzam, was born in Benghazi in 1927 into a family of Maronites from Aleppo and spent most of his life between Libya and Italy, speaking several languages and writing in Italian. He may be described as the “unsung” writer of Italian colonial and post-colonial past in North Africa. Spina’s oeuvre—collected in an omnibus edition, I confini dell’ombra. In terra d’oltremare (Morcelliana)—charts the history of Libya from 1911, when Italy invaded the Ottoman province, to 1966, when the country witnessed the economic boom sparked by the petrodollars. The cycle was awarded the Premio Bagutta, Italy’s highest literary accolade. In 2015, Darf Press published in English the first instalment of Spina’s opus with the title The Confines of the Shadows. In Lands Overseas. Spina always refused to be pigeonholed in some literary category and to be labeled as a colonial or postcolonial author. As a matter of fact, his works go beyond the spatial and imaginary boundaries of a given state or genre, emphasizing instead the mixing and collision of languages, cultures, identities, and forms of writing. Reading and re-discovering Spina in a transcultural mode brings to light the striking newness of his literary efforts, in which transnational lived life, creative imagination, and transcultural sensibility are inextricably interlaced.

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