Department of Kid Heroes in Literature

Published September 9, 2009 by Molly

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Reading may be a universally beloved pastime, but good books aren’t necessarily universal. Language takes care of that. Books available only in their native French or Spanish or Czech may be amazing, but for those limited to a different tongue, they may as well exist in a parallel universe.

That’s why it’s such a pleasure to find that Italian wordsmith Stefano Benni has seen his novel Margherita Dolce Vita freshly translated into English. Benni–– a hugely famous satirist in his native country––is long overdue for American adulation, and Margherita is a perfect place to start.

The title character is a spunky young girl prone to fantasizing and wordplay; a kid whose braces clash when she smooches her boyfriend “like a duel in the Illiad”. A skewed constellation of family members and a mysterious neighbor seal the premise, with Margherita cast as resourceful and unlikely savior. Best part of all? There’s no need to splurge on an Italian-English dictionary in order to read the novel. Molto sweet-o.

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