Caught Between Two Worlds

Here & Now

By Christina Marando

A review of Here & Now by Edited by Licia Canton

Published on February 28, 2022

Italian families in Canada are held together by customs and cultural practices that have been upheld and respected for generations. However, such strict adherence to cultural norms can also create pressure on those who do not meet these standards set by their loved ones. In a community that puts so much importance on conformity, where does “queerness” fit in?

Here & Now is an anthology of works by queer Italian-Canadian authors that delve into these questions and more. The anthology features works from a multitude of different writers, which includes nonfiction, poetry, scripts, fiction, a short comic, and two interviews. While each piece weaves its own story and boasts its own style, many are connected by similar themes. This includes the struggle that comes with creating harmony between two worlds that seem to be in total opposition to one another, family ties, whether or not to “come out”, and of course, the power that food has to bring a community together. 

Here & Now book cover

Here & Now
An Anthology of Queer Italian-Canadian Writing

Edited by Licia Canton

Longbridge Books
$34.95
paper
288pp
9781928065203

Traditionally, older generations of the Italian-Canadian community have avoided topics surrounding the LGBTQ+ community and “queerness.” These identities were, and in many ways still are, viewed as shameful or “wrong.” This shame has historically pushed queer Italian-Canadians deep into the closet to keep peace with their families. The intention of this anthology, as the title demonstrates, is to exert their presence in literary spaces, in their community, and in the here and now. As such, many of the pieces in the anthology shed light on narratives that had previously been hidden away. This makes for an interesting read that adds new compelling discussions to queer discourse.

The anthology centres heavily around queer Italian-Canadians coming to terms with their identity, while also trying to maintain a connection to their heritage. The issue of whether or not to “come out” to family members is a heavy focus in many of the stories in the book. Because of the stigma that still exists within the Italian-Canadian community, this is not always an easy choice to make. Different pieces tackle this differently; in “Rinasheremo” by C.J. Volpe, coming out is met with unexpected acceptance and love. In “Homesick” by Jessica Carpinone, acceptance comes in the form of a quiet, but loving, understanding. And then in stories like “Another Timeless Italian Tradition” by Anthony Portulese, keeping the two worlds separate ends up feeling like the only option. Within LGBTQ+ spaces, “coming out” has traditionally been considered a milestone that every queer person must eventually reach. “Here and Now” demonstrates that this issue is more complicated than it may seem, and that different people may choose to “come out” in different ways, if at all. 

Many of the narratives in this anthology also explore themes adjacent to or just outside of the Italian Canadian or queer communities. This includes pieces like “My Story, Their Story, Our Story,” in which the mother of a transgender child explains why it is so important for writers to write about things outside of what they know, even if it may stir up controversy. This makes for a nice, varied selection of content that keeps the anthology interesting throughout. 

Here & Now boasts an impressive collection of work that offers both refreshing new perspectives, while also delving deeper into previously explored topics. Each piece feels genuine and from the heart, making for an emotional and even tear-jerking read at times. It is exciting to see such vibrant writers emerging from the Italian-Canadian community to bring forth new voices into the present.mRb

Christina Marando is a freelance writer and editor currently living in Laval.

Comments

1 Comment

  1. Rosie M.

    So beautifully described!

    Reply

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