Gabriella Ghermandi

Award-winning author, performance artist visits ASU

By

Roxane Barwick

“Through my story you can see how history can pass through people’s lives,” says Ethiopian-Italian author Gabriella Ghermandi.

Ghermandi was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1965 and moved to her father’s hometown of Bologna, Italy at the age of 14 after his death. Her writings, performances and life reflect the interwoven and distinct cultural and political histories of Ethiopia and Italy. Born of an Ethiopian mother and Italian father, Ghermandi and her family dealt with devastating Italian racial laws and discrimination. She began writing to deal with her loneliness and yearning for home, using the words as a way to gather histories and traditions of Ethiopia and share them with others in the Italian language.

Eventually, she began writing short stories and doing oral performances professionally, capturing the personal experiences of Ethiopians, allowing them, for the first time, to tell their stories of incredible courage and sacrifice during Italian colonialism.

As a writer, Ghermandi has placed in the Eks & Tra Migrant Literature competition three times, winning first prize in 1999. Many of her works have been published in journals, magazines and collections. For the past few years she has served as art director of the world music and storytelling event Evocamondi Festival in Bentivoglio, Italy, and is one of the founders of the online literary journal “El Ghibli.”

Her debut novel “Queen of Flowers and Pearls,” which has won several prestigious prizes, presents a chain of stories within a story, offering a history “from below” of Italo-Ethiopian relations between 1935 and 2000.

Gabriella Ghermandi will be speaking at ASU from 7:30 to 9 p.m., Oct. 25, on the Tempe campus, in Coor Hall room 170.

Her visit is co-sponsored by the following College of Liberal Arts and Sciences units: School of International Letters and Cultures, Department of English, Insititute for Humanities Research, Women and Gender Studies and African and African-American Studies in the School of Social Transformation.