I came to the American Academy in Rome to work on a novel loosely based on Cesare Pavese and Fernanda Pivano and ended up writing a short story (and forthcoming novel) on a stripper living in the outskirts of Rome.

While at the Academy, I was asked to contribute to an anthology of the best Italian writers under 40 recently published by minimum fax under the name L’Età della Febbre: the anthology revolves around the concept of fever in terms of crisis and growth.

I had to take an unexpected but welcome detour from my original project, focusing on the interactions between American and Italian literati during the Fifties, and wrote about a female character living in the margins of the city, dealing with the sex industry and performing arts in a social context usually and still portrayed in Pasolinian terms.

To escape the binding narrative on Roma Est reminiscent of Ragazzi di vita, as well as the residual social determinism in Walter Siti’s novels such as Il Contagio, was one of my untold purposes in writing a short story called Cleopatra goes to prison, where specific neighborhoods– Tiburtina, Rebibbia– are described as tropical and dreamy transitional environments rather than places overcharged with social and political issues. The short story will become a novel and eventually a wider visual project.

Caterina Colombo, Cleopatra va in prigione, 2015

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