Italian writers in London - An evening with Vittorio Bongiorno at The Italian Bookshop


Katie Webb, International Co-director of FUIS, attends an event at The Italian Bookshop in London on 10th December 2016.

Vittorio Bongiorno was the star of the show on Saturday evening (10th December), talking about his book City Blues, at The Italian Bookshop in London. The book is set in Los Angeles, Berlin and Detroit, and explores the music scene and real life musicians who lived there. The evening was a coming together of the Italian literary community in London. The room was abuzz with writers, translators and others in the publishing industry, Italians in London who were welcoming and excited to hear of FUIS’s work and its plans in the UK.

Image of front cover of 'City Blues' by Vittorio Bongiorno
After the discussion, I was lucky enough to meet with Vittorio and discuss his life as a writer. Only one piece of his work – a short story called ‘Im not like you’ - has been translated into English, which also comes with a nice story. A limited edition run was created for him by shoemakers Fiorentini and Baker, which has shops in both London and Bologna, where Bongiorno lives. Bongiorno got to know them through his love of their shoes, of which they have made many pairs for him. In return, they loved his story, translating and publishing it for him for free. It uses materials from the shoemaking process; inside are graphics printed on the thin tracing paper in which Fiorentini and Baker wrap their shoes. A creative collaboration of writing, translating, bookbinding and shoemaking, it is also an imaginative celebration of all those crafts and makes a fitting material and literary connection between London and Italy. A lover of London, Bongiorno would love for more of his work to be translated into English.

By day Bongiorno works in advertising, choosing writing over sleep at night, after his family duties have ended in the evening. He likes the creative freedom of not having to rely on writing to make a living – being able to write about what he wants to write about, rather than serving the mainstream market which it seems less and less possible to avoid in the current publishing climate, especially for those who do rely on writing for an income. This is the kind of work he would be under pressure to write, were it his only job. For Bongiorno, music and literature go hand in hand, and he often performs musical readings. Facilities permitting, he brings his guitar to readings, setting the rhythm of the words to the music to create the effect he intended in writing them, often a soundscape of the music that inspired it.

Katie Webb, International Co-director (London), FUIS, Tuesday 13 December 2016