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Calabrian Tales is a unique story of inexplicable injustice and poverty, avarice and survival based on true family incidents that were revealed to the author in his youth.
The book’s chief character is the author’s great aunt, Marianna, who became the mistress of a wealthy noble. The lifestyle she adopted repeatedly shamed her relatives until living in Italy became unbearable for them. Eventually, the author’s father, Raffaele, fled his beloved Italy in the face of constant shame, and settled in the U.S. His son, author Peter Chiarella, grew up in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. There he heard the stories about life in Calabria from his grandmother, a principal character in the book. After her death, the stories kept coming, both from his father, also a character in Calabrian Tales, and from his mother, who had listened in on Nonna’s recollections over a period of fifteen years.
The stories of people who lived in what may have been Italy’s poorest region, blend with the historical struggles of the times in a combination reminiscent of certain aspects of The Godfather and the ignoble humanity of Angela’s Ashes.
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