- This event has passed.
How Fires End Book Launch — Marco Rafalà in conversation with Juliet Grames
October 17 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore, 413 Main Street
Middletown, CT 06457 United States
Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore is very excited to host Connecticut authors for a conversation about two immigrant families starting over in Connecticut after World War II. Join Marco Rafalà for his hometown launch of How Fires End and Hartford native, Juliet Grames, who discusses her novel The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna.
A dark secret born out of World War II lies at the heart of a Sicilian American family in this emotional and sweeping saga of guilt, revenge, and, ultimately, redemption.
After soldiers vacate the Sicilian hillside town of Melilli in the summer of 1943, the locals celebrate, giving thanks to their patron saint, Sebastian. Amid the revelry, all it takes is one fateful moment for the destiny of nine-year-old Salvatore Vassallo to change forever. When his twin brothers are killed playing with an unexploded mortar shell, Salvatore’s faith is destroyed. As the family unravels, and fear ignites among their neighbors that the Vassallo name is cursed, one tragedy begets another.
Desperate to escape this haunting legacy, Salvatore accepts the help of an Italian soldier with fascist ties who ushers him and his sister, Nella, into a new beginning in America. In Middletown, Connecticut, in the immigrant neighborhood known as Little Melilli, these three struggle to build new lives for themselves. But a dangerous choice to keep their secrets hidden erupts in violence decades later. When Salvatore loses his inquisitive American-born son, David, they all learn too late the price sons pay for their fathers’ wars.
Written with elegiac prose, How Fires End delves into the secret wars of men; the sins they cannot bury; and a life lived in fear of who will reveal them, who will survive them, and who will forgive them.
“How Fires End is a raised fist of a novel, one filled with men’s brutal tenderness and tender brutality. It is both a subtle and powerful indictment of the silences between generations and a poignant testament to the bond between sons and fathers of all kinds. A blazing debut by an important new Italian-American voice.” —Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men
“Beautiful, mesmerizing, consoling, and under immaculate control, Marco Rafalà’s How Fires End is a powerful novel about the religion we create for ourselves as we face that which perhaps even God has not imagined for humanity.” —Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh, The Queen of the Night, and How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
Marco Rafalà is a first-generation Sicilian American, novelist, musician, and writer for award-winning tabletop role-playing games. He earned his MFA in fiction from The New School and is a cocurator of the Guerrilla Lit Reading Series in New York City. Born in Middletown, Connecticut, he now lives in Brooklyn, New York. How Fires End is his debut novel. For more information, visit www.marcorafala.com.
From Calabria to Connecticut: a sweeping family saga about sisterhood, secrets, Italian immigration, the American dream, and one woman’s tenacious fight against her own fate.
For Stella Fortuna, death has always been a part of life. Stella’s childhood is full of strange, life-threatening incidents—moments where ordinary situations like cooking eggplant or feeding the pigs inexplicably take lethal turns. Even Stella’s own mother is convinced that her daughter is cursed or haunted.
In her rugged Italian village, Stella is considered an oddity—beautiful and smart, insolent and cold. Stella uses her peculiar toughness to protect her slower, plainer baby sister Tina from life’s harshest realities. But she also provokes the ire of her father Antonio: a man who demands subservience from women and whose greatest gift to his family is his absence.
When the Fortunas emigrate to America on the cusp of World War II, Stella and Tina must come of age side-by-side in a hostile new world with strict expectations for each of them. Soon Stella learns that her survival is worthless without the one thing her family will deny her at any cost: her independence.
In present-day Connecticut, one family member tells this heartrending story, determined to understand the persisting rift between the now-elderly Stella and Tina. A richly told debut, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is a tale of family transgressions as ancient and twisted as the olive branch that could heal them.
“Witty and deeply felt.” —Entertainment Weekly (New and Notable)
“The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna achieves what no sweeping history lesson about American immigrants could: It brings to life a woman that time and history would have ignored.” —Washington Post
Juliet Grames was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and grew up in a tight-knit Italian-American family. A book editor, she has spent the last decade at Soho Press, where she is associate publisher and curator of the Soho Crime imprint. This is her first novel.
April 25 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
May 4 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
May 4 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm