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Stolen Figs
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About the Author

Mark Rotella works as an editor at Publishers Weekly. His writing has appeared in The New York Times and elsewhere. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Reviews

The jacket copy defines PW Forecasts editor Rotella's narrative as a "model travelogue," but it's much more. Even without a conventional conflict and plot, the author's intensity and personal commitment to a country and its inhabitants cast a spell. Anecdotes range from comedic-a long unseen relative scolds Rotella's father, "Thirty years and you don't write!"-to curiously romantic, as when the author's wedding ring slips off his finger while swimming and a "crazy aunt" exclaims, "That's good luck. Now you will have to return!" Descriptions of delicacies such as soppressata, capicola, fettucine and rag? simmered with pepperoni incite a desire to be there just for the luscious, succulent meals, supporting Rotella's belief that you simply can't get a bad meal in Italy. Calabria is a particularly vivid character; readers learn how much the region has been through: spoiled by drought, destroyed by earthquakes and plundered by barons and kings. Rotella points out the effects of Mafia control in Bianca, a small, decrepit city, and the economic destruction it causes, without belaboring or stereotyping the Italian-Mafia connection. Playful moments are equally memorable, detailing petty fig heists from trees belonging to unknown farmers. Such likable protagonists as Rotella's loving father, his wife, and guide Giuseppe are woven unobtrusively through the tale of a culture that counts among its children Tony Bennett, Phil Rizzuto and Stanley Tucci. The book is a love letter, and Rotella reinforces that feeling when he writes, "I am a romantic. With each trip back to Calabria, I've felt myself becoming not only more Calabrese but more Italian." Readers, whether Italian or not, will find themselves captivated by so much meticulously drawn history and enchanting terrain. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

In this yummy travelog cum memoir, PW editor Rotella revisits Calabria, home of his forebears. A wonderful book, breathes the publicist. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"Mr. Rotella is not writing tourist or voyeur gastronomy; he is writing about food and life. And his Stolen Figs, with its travels and sights and encounters, goes beyond any of these things. It is about life: Calabrians' and ultimately his own." --Richard Eder, The New York Times"Rotella's account of his travels there, combined with family history and memories, is a charming digression from the unbearably lush memoirs of Tuscany and other more romantic parts of Italy." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"Italian Americans of a new generation are discovering their homeland, and they could not ask for a better guide than Mark Rotella." --Gay Talese"Stolen Figs is a charming, entertaining, graceful, warm-blooded tale, a genuine contribution to what we know about who we once were." --Bill Tonelli, editor of The Italian American Reader"Calabria deserves to be discovered and Mark Rotella is an enthusiastic and compassionate guide, traveling from the top to the toe of this least-known region of Italy to uncover the people, the food and the folk traditions that make up his Calabrian heritage." --Mary Taylor Simeti, author of On Persephone's Island: A Sicilian Journal

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