Carmine Abate: Il ballo tondo (The Round Dance)

The latest addition to my website is Carmine Abate‘s Il ballo tondo (The Round Dance). Abate comes from the Arbëreshë community, descendants of Albanians who fled the Ottomans between between the 14th and the 18th centuries and settled in Italy. This novel is set in Hora, a small Arbëreshë town in Calabria and for most of the main characters, Hora is the world. It is also a Bildungsroman and we follow Costatino who, under the influence of his grandfather, is immersed in Arbëreshë culture. Costatino”s father is often absent, working in Germany, but earns enough money to buy a small castle in the town. We learn a lot about the Albanian connection and, in particular, about the famous Albanian hero Skanderbeg whom Costatino reveres. We also learn about Carmelo, the teacher who is not from the region but is fascinated with Arbëreshë culture, but also fascinated with Costatino’s sister and with saving the world. It is is an interesting overview of a culture few of us will know about and also a well-told tale.

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