The question motivating the writing of celebrated emerging authors Vanessa Onwuemezi and Thea Lenarduzzi is the possibility, or impossibility, of home. Considering the places called home, the meaning attached to the term, and the homes we make in language, the writers also grapple with exclusion, loss, and ephemerality.
In Dandelions, winner of the 2020 Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize, Thea Lenarduzzi meditates upon family history, migration, nationalism, and the meaning of “home” across generations and continents. Through a multi-generational exploration of her family’s journey from northern Italy to the UK, Lenarduzzi delves into questions of national consciousness, memory, and identity construction. While Scholar of Note at the American Library in Paris, Vanessa Onwuemezi is drawing from Antillean poetry and philosophy to place translation and migration in conversation, and to reflect upon transit: between languages, places, and cultures; across mediums, identities, and time. Together, Onwuemezi and Lenarduzzi engage in a rich dialogue on the poetics of memory, constructions of identity, and the universal search for belonging in a rapidly changing world.
About the speaker:
Vanessa Onwuemezi is a London-based writer and poet. Her short story “At the Heart of Things” won The White Review’s Short Story Prize in 2019. Another of her stories, titled “Green Afternoon,” was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2022. Onwuemezi published her debut short story collection, Dark Neighbourhood, with Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2021. The collection was named one of The Guardian’s Best Books of 2021; it was also shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize and for the Edge Hill Prize in 2022.
Thea Lenarduzzi is a writer, broadcaster, and former editor at the Times Literary Supplement. She was born and raised in northern Italy and moved to the UK as a young adult. In 2020, Lenarduzzi won the Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize with her proposal for Dandelions. The full memoir was published with Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2022. Dandelions was shortlisted for the Ackerly Prize, an annual award for the best autobiographical volume by a British author.