The Heart and the Island

A Critical Study of Sicilian American Literature

By Chiara Mazzucchelli

Subjects: Italian American Studies, Literature, Literary Criticism, Italian Studies, Ethnicity
Series: SUNY series in Italian/American Culture
Paperback : 9781438459226, 210 pages, July 2016
Hardcover : 9781438459233, 210 pages, September 2015

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Table of contents

1. Of Sicily and Its Ripples: Sicilianamericanità and Sicilian American Literature
2. From Sulphur Mines to Tenements: Sicilianamericanità in Ben Morreale’s Novels
3. “Half-and-Half”: Sicilianamericanità in Jerre Mangione’s Memoirs
4. “The Scum of the Scum of the Scum”: Rose Romano’s Search for Sisterhood
5. Once upon a Place: Gioia Timpanelli and the Sicilian Storytelling Tradition

Makes the case for a distinctly Sicilian American literature.


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.

Chiara Mazzucchelli is Assistant Professor of Italian Studies at the University of Central Florida.


"In this ground-breaking critical study on Sicilian American literature, Chiara Mazzucchelli renders a brilliant analysis on the presence of sicilianamericanità in contemporary literature … The Heart and the Island is an essential addition to Italian American studies, one that will continue to provoke new investigations and interdisciplinary discussions on Sicilian American literature … Mazzucchelli's work is captivating and deeply informative for readers outside of academia … [she] is a brilliant, soulful critic." — Sicilia Press

"The Heart and the Island makes a distinctive contribution to the field of Italian American studies, provocatively extending it as well as continuing the invaluable work of providing reflection on a variety of narratives distinguished by generic innovation and distinctive responses to sicilianità. Chiara Mazzucchelli has beautifully advanced the field, interweaving with skill and poise the voices of Sicilian and Sicilian American writers." — Mary Jo Bona, author of By the Breath of Their Mouths: Narratives of Resistance in Italian America