The Heart and the Island
In The Heart and the Island, Chiara Mazzucchelli explores the strong bond between Sicilian American writers and the island of Sicily. Self-contained yet connected to the mainland, geographically separated from yet politically united to the rest of Italy, Sicily occupies a unique position. Throughout the twentieth century, the sense of a distinct sicilianità—or Sicilianness—has manifested itself in a corpus of texts that, although subsumed under the broader context of Italian literature, have distinguished themselves as examples of an exquisitely Sicilian literary experience. Mazzucchelli argues that a parallel phenomenon—sicilianamericanità—has emerged in the United States. Focusing on the island’s geography, history, and culture, she examines how many American authors of Sicilian descent derive inspiration from their ethnic milieu and lay out a recognizable set of Sicilian culture markers in their works, thereby producing a literature that is distinctly Sicilian American. Drawing on both Italian and Italian American scholarship, The Heart and the Island is the first full-length study of Sicilian American literature, and it opens a space for new interdisciplinary discussions on what it means to be Italian on both sides of the ocean.