Headpress Books
Established 1991

Cover of Mezzogiorno

Mezzogiorno

Life. Death. Southern Italy.

A unique mediation on family history and the Italian Diaspora, reconstructed via three generations of peasant life, folklore and myth.

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“Europe ends at Naples and ends badly. Calabria, Sicily and all the rest belong to Africa.” — Creuzé de Lesser, 1806

No geographical map distinguishes Montefalcione as being different from any number of isolated mountain villages in southern Italy. It has ancient customs and its own saints and feast days, like other villages. Yet Montefalcione in Campania is the setting for a unique meditation on family and the Italian Diaspora, reconstructing three generations of village life through myth, superstition, and the anecdotal history of the author’s own family, Iantosca.

Mezzogiorno is a unique mediation on family history and the Italian Diaspora. Author David Kerekes reconstructs three generations of family history and myth, with material drawn from anecdotal legacy and villagefolk. The book is steeped in the religious and superstitious culture in which the Iantoscas lived, which inevitably makes the work as much a piece of magical realism as it is biography, the family drama unfolding amidst a landscape of abject poverty, vicious landlords, feuds, curses and the hypnotic tarantella. It is a haunting world lost to the changing Italy of the twenty-first century.

Chapters

  1. When entering the village of Montefalcione
  2. Italy Iantosca 1955
  3. The tradition of the chicken
  4. Bread & labour
  5. A slight earthquake
  6. The evil eye
  7. Duce, fascisti!
  8. A dozen ricotta
  9. Sanduccio’s gate
  10. Jus sanguinis
  11. Contraband
  12. A fight at the wedding
  13. The drowning of Martignetti’s wife & daughter
  14. Montevergine
  15. The election day quarrel
  16. Natalina falls ill
  17. Zi Minuccio, the agent for the village
  18. Festa
  19. A toast to Saravatico
  20. Diaspora
Sample Pages

David Kerekes

DAVID KEREKES is co-founder of the publishing house Headpress. He has given talks and written extensively on film and media, including the books Killing for Culture (1994; expanded and revised in 2015), See No Evil and Sex Murder Art. His novella Mezzogiorno is rooted in the impoverished Italian South, touching on themes of family, community, place, and deep-rooted occult and folkloric beliefs. He has contributed to zines and books, most recently the foreword to Snuff: Real Death and Screen Media (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016).