Synopses & Reviews
2000 Drue Heinz Literature Prize Winner
Selected by Frank Conroy
In the Gathering Woods contains a cast of characters who hail from the same Italian ancestors, but whose stories come at us unbounded by time and space. The book opens early in the twentieth century, with a narrator’s boyhood recollections of gathering mushrooms with his grandfather—a narrator who seems still haunted by a terrifying local legend that tormented him as a boy. We skip backward to a young shepherd-artist in the Apennine mountains in the 1500s, who yearns to be discovered, as Giotto was. Later, a preverbal baby accumulates bits of the conversation carried on by adults at the table above her head; a neurologist from Chicago returns to the Apennines to deposit shards of glass at a grave.
Whether they speak in the lost dialect of an immigrant, of infancy, or of an adolescent girl’s school lessons, these stories call up fragments of language in a struggle to understand and attempt to console through the act of reassembling. The language of these stories is both lyrical and comic, providing insight through the details of Bernardi’s writing.
“Here at last is fiction worthy of award. . . . With crystalline prose, Bernardi illuminates the gentle fatalism and inextricable sadness of Italian families, here and across the sea. . . . Haunting, with a taste in the words like bitter cherries.”
About the Author
Adria Bernardi was awarded the 2000 Drue Heinz Literature Prize by Frank Conroy for her collection of short stories, In the Gathering Woods. She is the author of two novels, Openwork, and The Day Laid on the Altar, which was awarded the 1999 Bakeless Prize by Andrea Barrett. She is the author of a collection of essays, Dead Meander. Her translations include ChernobyloveThe Day After the Wind: Selected Poems 2008-2010 by Francesca Pellegrino. She received the 2007 De Palchi Translation Fellowship to complete Small Talk, the poetry of Raffaello Baldini. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.