Anna Monardo ’83 Releases 'After Italy: A Family Memoir of Arranged Marriage'

Carlos Barragán
June 25, 2024

Writing alumna Anna Monardo ’83 has published a new book, After Italy: A Family Memoir of Arranged Marriage (Bordighera Press, 2024). This memoir is her first nonfiction book after her novels The Courtyard of Dreams (Doubleday, 1993) and Falling In Love with Natassia (Doubleday, 2006).

After Italy: A Family Memoir of Arranged Marriage is the story of marriages across three generations. Starting from a marriage brokered to facilitate immigration from Southern Italy to Braddock, PA, a steel town outside of Pittsburgh, before and immediately after WWII, this memoir explores the multigenerational impact of arranged marriage.

“In different ways, I’ve been writing After Italy, the story of my family’s emigration from Calabria, most of my life,” Monardo said. “In my first novel, The Courtyard of Dreams, I fictionalized our story, avoiding inclusion of the arranged marriages that facilitated my parents’ and grandparents’ immigration. I was still confounded by the question: How could my loved ones have been so ‘utilitarian’ in the most intimate decision of their lives? Then my brother and I, while cleaning out our parents’ home, found a trove of Italian documents charting our father’s childhood and young adulthood in Italy during Fascism: his elementary-school report cards; his medical-school course booklets from the University of Naples; his conscription papers into the Italian Army during WWII; and a chronicle he wrote about his father, an outspoken anti-Fascist. With those materials in hand, I couldn’t not write the memoir.”

Monardo explores her family’s history, incorporating elements of Calabrian folklore, epigenetics, and psychology to narrate the story of her family’s marriages—including her own. “Our story eventually unfolds in an unlikely path to international adoption,” she added.

Mary Pipher, author of A Life in Light and Reviving Ophelia, praised the memoir: “This beautifully written story of three generations of marriage is a page-turner. Monardo's honest and reflective memoir reveals intergenerational patterns as intricate as Italian lace. This family story has something to teach us all.”

Anna Monardo was born in Pittsburgh, spent many years in New York City, and now lives in Omaha, Nebraska, where she teaches in the Writer’s Workshop of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Ovunque Siamo, Hotel Amerika, More, and Cimarron Review.