19th WEEK OF ITALIAN LANGUAGE IN THE WORLD
On the occasion of the release in the United States of The Girl with the Leica by Europa Editions, the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington DC are pleased to invite you for a presentation of the book by Helena Janeczek, winner of the 2018 Premio Strega – Italy’s most prestigious literary prize.
Helena Janeczek will be discussing her novel about Gerda Taro, the first female war photographer to die on the front line, as well as her ideas on writing and culture boundaries with Anna Lawton, Publisher at New Academia and editor of Janeczek’s first publication in the United States, The Swallows of Monte Cassino.
“A biography; a feminist parable; a declaration of love for photography; a narrative tableau of the 1930s: The Girl with the Leica is all of this at once. Helena Janeczek worked on this book for six years. And it shows.” ― Il Sole 24 Ore
This event is organized under the High Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic and in collaboration with Europa Editions and New Academia as part of the 19th Week of Italian Language in the World, an event promoted yearly by the Italian diplomatic and cultural network to foster the diffusion and study of the Italian language in the world.
Embassy of Italy
3000 Whitehaven Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
Gerda Taro was a German-Jewish war photographer, anti-fascist activist, artist and innovator who, together with her partner, the Hungarian Endre Friedmann, was one half of the alias Robert Capa, widely considered to be the twentieth century’s greatest war and political photographer. She was killed while documenting the Spanish Civil War and tragically became the first female photojournalist to be killed on a battlefield.
August 1, 1937, Paris. Taro’s twenty-seventh birthday, and her funeral. Friedmann, who would henceforth assume the moniker Robert Capa alone, leads the procession. He taught Taro to use a Leica. Together, they left for the Spanish Civil War to bear witness to fascist war crimes. He is devastated, but there are others, equally bereft, in the procession: Ruth Cerf, Taro’s old friend from Leipzig with whom she fled to Paris; Willy Chardack, ex-lover; Georg Kuritzkes, another lover and a key figure in the International Brigades. They have all known a different Gerda, and one who is at times radically at odds with the heroic anti-fascist figure who is being mourned by the multitudes.
Gerda Taro is at the heart of this kaleidoscopic novel but another of its main characters is the era itself, the 1930s, with economic depression, the rise of Nazism, hostility towards refugees in France, the century’s ideological warfare, the cultural ferment, and the ascendency of photography as the age’s quintessential art form.
The Girl with the Leica is a must-read for fans of historical fiction centered on extraordinary women’s lives.
Born in Munich in a Polish Jewish family, Helena Janeczek has been living in Italy for over thirty years. With The Girl with the Leica she won the Strega Prize, Italy’s most prestigious literary award, and was a finalist for the Campiello Prize. Amongst her other titles: Lezioniditenebra, Cibo and Le rondini di Montecassino. She lives in Milan, Italy.
Anna Lawton has earned her PhD in Russian Literature at UCLA. She worked both in academia and in government. As a professor, she taught courses in literature, cinema and visual culture at Purdue University and Georgetown University. She has served on the Advisory Film Committee of the National Gallery of Art, and has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center. She is the author of several books, including two novels. She is also the founder and head of New Academia Publishing, which has published the English translation of Janeczek’s The Swallows of Montecassino.