Synopses & Reviews
“Basing her story on her own family narratives and a deep understanding of Italian Americans, [Fabiano] paints a vivid portrait not just of immigrants lives in the first ten years of the last century, but of the vicious criminals who preyed on them.”—Mike Dash, author of The First Family
In Elizabeth Street, Laurie Fabiano tells a remarkable, and previously unheard, story of the Italian immigrant experience at the start of the twentieth century. With stories culled from her own family history, Fabiano paints an entrancing portrait of Giovanna Costa, who, reeling from personal tragedies, tries to make a new life in a new world. Shot through with the smells and sights of Scilla, Italy, and New Yorks burgeoning Little Italy, this intoxicating story follows Giovanna as she finds companionship, celebrates the birth of a baby girl, takes pride in a growing business, and feels a sense of belonging during a family outing to Coney Island.
However, these modest successes are rewarded with the attention of the notorious Black Hand, a gang of brutal extortionists led by Lupo the Wolf. As the stakes grow higher, Giovanna desperately struggles to remain outside the fray, so she may fight for—and finally save—what is important above all else: family.
"Starred Review. This entertaining memoir chronicles Laurino's experiences from childhood to marriage, eventually getting to the heart of what it means to be Italian in America. She creatively approaches various cultural facets, from clothing to politics to religion, with candor and personality, using specific examples to illustrate general cultural themes....In examining each component, Laurino openly expresses the mixed feelings of pride and embarrassment she felt as a child, which eventually developed into understanding and veneration. This book will serve as a welcome reminder that there is more to Italian culture than ." Publishers Weekly
"[A] delightfully companionable book ....a fine contribution to the literature of American ethnicity." Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait of My Body
"Adroitly, without defensiveness, Laurino takes us on a journey of exploration of the Italian-American experience, with intelligence and love." Helen Barolini, author of Chiaroscuro: Essays of Identity
"Finally, someone has had the intelligence and the honesty to go beyond the stereotypes....completely original and informative." David Chase, creator/executive producer, The Sopranos
Maria Laurino sifts through the stereotypes bedeviling Italian Americans to deliver a penetrating and hilarious examination of third-generation ethnic identity. With "intelligence and honesty" (), she writes about guidos, bimbettes, and (mama's boys in Italy); examines the clashing aesthetics of Giorgio Armani and Gianni Versace; and unravels the etymology of southern Italian dialect words like and . According to Frances Mayes, she navigates the conflicting forces of ethnicity "with humor and wisdom."
"One of the best books about the immigrant experience in America....unique and gracefully written."--
Elizabeth Street is both a fascinating immigrant story and an intimate portrait of how a first-generation American--and the authors own great-grandmother--outwits one of the most brutal crime organizations of the early 20th century.
About the Author
Laurie Fabiano has had an exciting and colorful career in the non-profit world. After graduating college, she moved to her family's hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey, established the Hoboken Cultural Council, and created an innovative three-month arts and cultural festival. She went on to coordinate New York City's July 4th celebration. After involvement in local political campaigns, she became Deputy Mayor of Hoboken during the administration of Thomas Vezzetti, a reform candidate dubbed "The Wackiest Mayor in America." When she left the Mayor's office, she continued a project she initiated - taking the first American Baseball team to the Soviet Union for a "Goodwill Tour." In 1988, AIDS was at its peak and motivated by the death of a family member, Fabiano became an AIDS activist. For seven years she produced the AIDS Walks and AIDS Dance-a-thons around the country, raising millions of dollars and AIDS awareness. In the past decade, as the Robin Hood Foundation's Senior Vice President, she helped grow the Foundation into the largest private organization fighting poverty in New York City. She is now the President of Fab Tool, a marketing and events company. Fabiano comes from a creative and close Italian family and loves all things Italian. Elizabeth Street, her first novel, is her family's story. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey with her husband Joe and their daughter Siena.