Scarpa wins Strega prize
Italian novelist, poet and playwright Tiziano Scarpa won the prestigious Strega literary prize Thursday night with his third novel, Stabat Mater.
Scarpa, 46, came out one vote ahead of Antonio Scurati with Il bambino che sognava la fine del mondo (The Child Who Dreamed Of The End Of The World).
Massimo Lugli came third with L'istinto del lupo (The Instinct Of The Wolf).
Scarpa, who lives and works in his native Venice, dedicated the prize to historic Italian publisher Giulio Einaudi, who died ten years ago.
''He believed so much in my first book,'' said Scarpa, raising a glass of champagne.
Stabat Mater takes the form of a letter from a lonely, violin-playing girl, left in an 18th-century orphanage where she is comforted by priest and composer Antonio Vivaldi, to the mother she has never known.
Scarpa's first novel, Occhi sulla graticola (Eyes On The Grill), came out in 1996.
It was followed by Kamikaze d'occidente (Western Kamikaze) in 2003.
Both were published by Einaudi in Italy and have been translated into several languages, including Chinese.
The Strega is perhaps the most high-brow of Italy's three big book awards.
The others are the Viareggio and Campiello prizes.
Recent winners of the Strega have included Niccolo' Ammanati, Maurizio Maggiani and Sandro Veronesi.
Of these, Ammanati is perhaps the best known abroad because of his 2001 cult thriller Io non ho paura (I'm Not Scared) which was turned into a 2003 film of the same name by Oscar-winning director Gabriele Salvatores.
Ammaniti was one of this year's judges and said in a review: ''I was overcome by Scarpa's ability to feel such a faraway solitude and convey it with such power and pity''.
The Einaudi publishing house was founded by Giulio Einaudi, the son of Italy's first president, in 1933 and published some of Italy's best-known authors.
It was also the first house to publish Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, in 1957, when the famous novel was banned in the Soviet Union.
Einaudi, which is owned by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Mondadori publishing group, has now won the Strega for three years running.
The prize, now in its 63rd year, was founded in 1947 by the author Maria Bellonci (1902-1986).
Bellonci, best-known for her successful biographies of historical figures like Marco Polo and Lucretia Borgia, wanted to encourage literary freedom of expression after its repression under Fascism.
The name Strega, which means witch in Italian, refers to the prize's sponsors, producers of the famed yellow liqueur of the same name.
Past winners include Cesare Pavese, Alberto Moravia, Giorgio Bassani, Elsa Morante, Dino Buzzati, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Carlo Cassola, Natalia Ginzburg, Primo Levi, Umberto Eco and Gesualdo Bufalino.
In the past, the Strega prize has been marked by controversy.
There have sometimes been rowdy arguments involving publishers and writers and even allegations of vote rigging.
This year was no exception with odds-on favourite Daniele Del Giudice, also of the Einaudi stable, pulling out weeks ago amid allegations that his Orizzonte mobile (Mobile Horizon) already had the votes to win.