Igiaba Scego

Biography

Igiaba Scego photographed by lettera27 in 2008 (Flickr/Wikimedia Commons)

Igiaba Scego is an Italian novelist and journalist. She was born in Rome in 1974 to Somali parents who had emigrated to Italy following Siad Barre’s 1969 coup d’état. Scego’s father had been a well-known politician in Somalia and had held posts such as ambassador and foreign minister.

Scego started her literary career in 2003 with a bilingual children’s book called La nomade che amava Alfred Hitchcock - Ari raacato jecleeyd Alfred Hitchcock [The Nomad who Loved Alfred Hitchcock], which is inspired by the story of her mother’s migration to Italy. In 2004, Scego published her first novel, Rhoda, which was awarded the Eks&Tra literary prize dedicated to migrant writers and their descendants. Rhoda is set in Rome, Naples and Mogadishu, and tells the stories of five different characters: Faduma and Barni, two Somali immigrants to Italy, the nieces of Barni, Rhoda and Aisha, and Pino, a Neapolitan volunteer social worker. In 2005, Scego edited the anthology Italiani per vocazione [Italians by Vocation] with stories by Jorge Canifa Alves, Sabbatino Annecchiarico, Kossi Komla-Ebri, Ingy Mumbiayi Kakese, Ubax Cristina Ali Farah, Younis Wakkas, Jadelin Mabiala Gangbo and Barbara Serdakowski among others.

Scego became well known after the publication of two short stories, ‘Salsicce’ [‘Sausages’] (2003 Eks&Tra prize) and ‘Dismatria’, published in Pecore nere [Black Sheep], an anthology edited by Flavia Capitani and Emanuele Coen (2005) that focuses on the experiences of ‘second-generation migrants’ in Italy. Since 2005, she has edited a series of radio programmes and authored columns in some of Italy’s prominent newspapers and magazines (Repubblica, l’Unità, Internazionale), as well as online magazines specialising in migration (Carta, Corriere immigrazione, Migra, Nigrizia, El-ghibli: Rivista di letteratura della migrazione). In 2007, along with Ingy Mubiayi, she edited a collection of interviews, Quando nasci è una roulette: Giovani figli di migranti si raccontano [When You’re Born It’s a Crapshoot: Young Children of Migrants Tell their Stories], a collection of stories by seven young Italians of African origin.

After graduating in Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures at the First University of Rome (La Sapienza), Igiaba Scego completed her PhD in pedagogy in 2008 at the Third University of Rome, with a thesis on the writing of Erminia dell’Oro, Cristina Ali Farah and Gabriella Ghermandi. Scego’s Oltre Babilonia [Beyond Babylon] was published in 2008. Oltre Babilonia features five main characters – two pairs of mothers (Maryam and Miranda) and daughters (Zuhra Laamane and Mar Ribeiro Martino) and a shared father (Elias) –, who account for their interrelated stories alternating their voices in each chapter. The two mothers have escaped from dictatorship in Somalia and Argentina, respectively, and the two daughters have multiple cultural and linguistic identities. In 2010, Scego published a memoir, called La mia casa è dove sono [My Home is Where I Am], which was awarded the Mondello prize and adapted into a school text book in 2012. Igiaba Scego also appeared in the Italian film La pecora nera by Ascanio Celestini (2010). In 2013, she started a petition to destroy a monument in honour of the Italian war criminal Rodolfo Graziani, which was built near Rome, in Affile.

Her latest novel, Adua (2015), features the main themes of Scego’s work: the double identity of Italians of African origin, the denunciation of Italy’s colonial past and its sexist and racist legacy in the present.

While working as a journalist and a writer, in 2017 Scego also started a post-Doc at the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Her research focuses on Italian colonialism and blackness in Italy.

Compiled by Simone Brioni (Stony Brook)

Bibliography

Novels

La nomade che amava Alfred Hitchcock: Ari raacato jecleeyd Alfred Hitchcock (Rome: Sinnos, 2003) [young adult book]

Rhoda (Rome: Sinnos, 2004)

Oltre Babilonia (Rome: Donzelli, 2008)

La mia casa è dove sono (Milan: Rizzoli, 2010, Turin: Loescher, 2012)

Adua (Florence: Giunti, 2015)

Short Stories

Prestami le ali. Storia di Clara la rinoceronte, illustrated by Fabio Visintin (Tolentino, Macerata: Rrose Sélavy, 2017) [children’s book]

‘Afgoi ore 8: La giornalista e l’apprendista-parrucchiera’ in La seconda pelle ed. by Roberta Sangiorgi (San Giovanni in Persiceto: Eks&tra, 2004, pp. 67-87)

‘In mancanza di tutto, anche l’inferno diventa sopportabile’ (Marea 4, 2004, pp. 25-26)

‘L’esorcismo del Gebril’ (Quaderni del 900, 4, 2004, pp. 137-144)

‘La strana notte di Vito Renica, leghista meridionale’ (El-Ghibli: Rivista di letteratura della migrazione 3, 2004). Available online at http://archivio.elghibli.org/index.php%3Fid=1&issue=00_03&section=1&index_pos=1.html

‘Salsicce’ in Pecore nere ed. by Flavia Capitani and Emanuele Coen (Bari: Laterza 2005 [2003], pp. 23-36)

‘Dismatria’ in Pecore nere ed. by Flavia Capitani and Emanuele Coen (Rome/Bari: Laterza, 2005, pp. 5-21)

‘L’igienista verbale’ in Allattati dalla lupa ed. by Armando Gnisci (Rome: Sinnos, 2005, pp. 67-72)

‘Bianche e Blu’ (Nuovi argomenti, 29, 2005, pp. 92-99)

‘Identità’ in Amori bicolori ed. by Flavia Capitani and Emanuele Coen (Rome/Bari: Laterza, 2008, pp. 5-33)

‘L’albero’ in Nessuna Pietà ed. by Luca Scarlini (Milan: Officine Salani, 2009, pp. 81-88)

‘Il disegno’ in Roma d’Abissinia ed. by Daniele Comberiati (Cuneo: Nerosubianco, 2010 [2005], pp. 23-39)

Collections of Short Stories

Mubiayi, Kakese, Scego, Ingy and Igiaba [eds.]: Quando nasci è una roulette: Giovani figli di migranti si raccontano (Milan: Terre di Mezzo, 2007)

Scego, Igiaba [ed.]: Italiani per vocazione (Rome: Cadmo, 2006)

Non-Fiction Co-Authored Books

Bianchi, Rino and Scego, Igiaba: Roma Negata: Percorsi postcoloniali nella città (Rome: Ediesse, 2014)

Filippini, Simona and Scego, Igiaba: Roma Love (Rome: Camera 21, 2014)

Scego, Igiaba and Veloso, Caetano: Camminando controvento (Turin: add editore, 2016)

Articles (Selection)

‘Hirsi Ali, falsaria un po’ dilettante’ (Il Manifesto-Alias 24, 16 June 2007, p. 5)

‘Caro Presidente ci dia una speranza, non voglio emigrare’ (L’Unità, 30 April 2010, p. 10)

‘In viaggio sulla Babele rotante’ (Internazionale, 25 October 2010). Available online at http://www.internazionale.it/in-viaggio-sulla-babele-rotante/

‘Non in mio nome’ (Internazionale, 7 January 2015). Available online at https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/igiaba-scego/2015/01/07/non-in-mio-nome

‘Gli afroeuropei e l’invenzione del colore della pelle’ (Internazionale, 26 February 2017). Available online at https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/igiaba-scego/2017/02/26/afroeuropei-razzismo

‘Storia personale della guerra in Somalia’ (Internazionale, 6 November 2017). Available online at https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/igiaba-scego/2017/11/06/guerra-somalia-mogadiscio

Direction of Radio Programmes

Black Italians (Radio 3, 16-30 November 2010)

Damasco (Radio 3, 24 December 2007)

English Translations of Scego’s Work

‘Sausages’ [Translation of ‘Salsicce’ by Giovanna Bellesia and Vittoria Offredi Poletto] (Metamorphoses 13, 2, 2005, pp. 214-225)

‘Dismatria’ [Translation of ‘Dismatria’ by Hugh Shankland] in Rome Tales ed. by Helen Constantine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 223-244)

Adua [Translation of Adua by Jamie Richards] (New York: New Vessel Press, 2017)

Beyond Babylon [Translation of Oltre Babilonia by Aaron Robertson] (San Francisco: Two Lines Press, 2019)

Brazilian Translations of Scego’s Work

Caminhando Contra O Vento [Translation of Camminando controvento by Francesca Cricelli] (São Paulo: Buzz Editora, 2018)

Compiled by Simone Brioni (Stony Brook)

 

Criticism

Selection

Babic Williams, Tatiana: ‘Dismatria: The Quest for a Motherland in Igiaba Scego’s Writings’ in Disjointed Perspectives on Motherhood, ed. by Catalina Florina Florescu (Lanham, MA: Lexington, 2013, pp. 105-124)

Bond, Emma: ‘Photography: Memorial Intertexts in New Writing by Maaza Mengiste, Nadifa Mohamed, and Igiaba Scego’ in The Horn of Africa and Italy: Colonial, Postcolonial and Transnational Cultural Encounters, ed. by Simone Brioni and Shimelis Gulema (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2018, pp. 295-317)

Brancato, Sabrina: ‘From Routes to Roots: Afrosporic Voices in Italy’ (Callaloo, 30, 2, 2007, pp. 653-661)

Brioni, Simone: The Somali Within: Language, Race and Belonging in ‘Minor’ Italian Literature (Cambridge: Legenda 2015)

Brogi, Daniela: ‘Being Different without Fear: On Igiaba Scego’s Oltre Babilonia (and More)’ in Afroeurope@n Configurations: Readings and Projects ed. by Sabrina Brancato (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011, pp. 198-208)

Camilotti, Silvia: ‘I “nuovi italiani” e la crisi dell’italianità: La mia casa è dove sono di Igiaba Scego’ (mediAzioni, 16, 2014). Available online at http://mediazioni.sitlec.unibo.it/images/stories/PDF_folder/document-pdf/2014/dossierSangiorgi/01_camilotti.pdf

—: ‘Oltre Babilonia? Postcolonial Female Trajectories towards Nomadic Subjectivity’ (Italian Studies 65, 2, 2010, pp. 204-218)

Clò, Clarissa: ‘Hip Pop Italian Style: The Postcolonial Imagination of Second-Generation Authors in Italy’ in Postcolonial Italy: The Colonial Past in Contemporary Culture ed. by Cristina Lombardi Diop and Caterina Romeo (Basingstoke: Palgrave McMillan, 2012, pp. 275-292)

Contarini, Silvia: ‘Narrazioni, migrazioni e genere’ in Certi confini: Sulla letteratura italiana dell’immigrazione ed. by Lucia Quaquarelli (Milan: Morellini, 2010, pp. 146-149)

Derobertis, Roberto: ‘Holding All the Pieces Together: Colonial Legacies and Postcolonial Futures in the Writings of Igiaba Scego and Cristina Ali Farah’ in Experiences of Freedom in Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures ed. by Annalisa Oboe and Shaul Bassi (London: Routledge, 2011, pp. 265-275)

Gerrand, Vivian: Possible Spaces of Somali Belonging (Carlton, Victoria.:  Melbourne University Publishing, 2016)

Hanna, Monica: ‘“Non siamo gli unici polemici”: Intersecting Difference and the Multiplicity of Identity in Igiaba Scego’s Salsicce’ (Quaderni del Novecento, 4, 2004, pp. 67-76)

Janusz, Joanna: ‘Espressivismo linguistico e culturale in “Oltre Babilonia” di Igiaba Scego’ (Romanica Silesiana 6, 2011, pp. 246-262)

Kleinert, Susanne: ‘Memoria postcoloniale e spazio ibrido del soggetto in Oltre Babilonia di Igiaba Scego’ (Narrativa 33-34, 2012, pp. 205-214)

Lori, Laura: Inchiostro d’Africa: La letteratura postcoloniale somala fra diaspora e identità (Verona: Ombre Corte, 2013)

Paynter, Eleanor: ‘The Spaces of Citizenship: Mapping Personal and Colonial Histories in Contemporary Italy in Igiaba Scego’s La mia casa è dove sono (My Home is Where I Am)’ (European Journal of Life Writing, 6, 2017). Available online at https://ejlw.eu/article/view/31488/28842

Pinzuti, Eleonora: ‘Sinthomatizzazione post-coloniale in Oltre Babilonia di Igiaba Scego’ (Narrativa 33-34, 2012, pp. 195-203)

Proglio, Gabriele: Memorie oltre il confine. La letteratura postcoloniale in prospettiva storica (Verona: Ombre Corte, 2011)

Seccia, Maria Cristina, ‘Reconstructing the Maternal: Transmission of Memory, Cultural Translation and Transnational Identity in Igiaba Scego’s La mia casa è dove sono’ in Transmissions of Memory: Echoes, Traumas and Nostalgia ed. by Patrizia Sambuco (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2018, pp. 55-70)

Siggers Manson, Christina: ‘Sausages and Cannons: The Search for an Identity in Igiaba Scego’s Salsicce’ (Quaderni del Novecento 4, 2004, pp. 77-86)

Vivan, Itala: ‘From AfricaMix to Babilonia: The African Voice Writing Italian’ (The Global South, 5, 2, 2011, pp. 121-138)

Compiled by Simone Brioni (Stony Brook)

 

Interviews

Brioni, Simone: ‘Intervista con Igiaba Scego’ (Rome, 22 November 2013)

Comberiati, Daniele: ‘Il paese rosso: La Somalia di Igiaba Scego’ in La quarta sponda: scrittrici in viaggio dall’Africa coloniale all’Italia di oggi ed. by Daniele Comberiati (Rome: Pigreco, 2007, pp. 69-86)

Mauceri, Maria Cristina: ‘Igiaba Scego: La seconda generazione di autori transnazionali sta già emergendo’ (El Ghibli. Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, 4, 2004). Available online at http://archivio.el-ghibli.org/index.php%3Fid=1&issue=01_04&section=6&index_pos=1.html

Compiled by Simone Brioni (Stony Brook)