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This report is taken from PN Review 52, Volume 13 Number 2, November - December 1986.

Fiction and the Market Place Tim Parks
They're changing the guard in Italy. After the recent deaths of Calvino and Morante, and with Moravia and Ginzburg well into their seventies, the publishers are, to be brutal, out for replacements. And not just the Italian publishers: 'We are continually receiving signs of interest from foreign publishers in young novelists,' says Piero Galli, an editor at Garzanti. 'They even go so far as to insist with some urgency that we give them options on writers they've never read and know nothing about.'

The desire to attach a tag of 'required reading' to young authors and thus create, as in the USA, the myth of an important 'new wave' of writers, is reflected in the unprecedentedly high number of first and second novels being entered for the country's two main literary prizes, the Strega and the Campiello, and again in such stunts as television and magazine enounters between young and old writers discussing their respective (and neatly packaged) generations. It is as if the publishers here had discovered the sales value of updating, introducing new models, proposing trade-ins; we (and prospective foreign buyers) are even offered a certain amount of product stability along with the novelty, as new writers are proclaimed the direct descendants of old: Daniele Del Giudice inherits the Calvino mantle, Busi is likened in Alfa Beta to Pasolini, Elkann, who has his occasional touch of Moravia, is praised by Moravia in the columns of Corriere della Sera, and so on.

And everybody waits with ...


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