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(Hybrid) Vanessa Onwuemezi and Thea Lenarduzzi: Writing Home

Tue February 20 @ 19 h 30 - 20 h 30


Join two of the UK’s most celebrated debut authors, Vanessa Onwuemezi and Thea Lenarduzzi, as they delve into interplays of language, heritage, and writing.

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.

Learn more:

Vanessa Onwuemezi came to the Library in 2022 to discuss her widely-acclaimed short-story collection, Dark Neighbourhood. In case you missed it: you can watch a recording of the program here.

The Financial Times reviewed Dandelions, deeming it a “timely investigation of Italian identity and fascist legacy” that “illuminates the roots of nationalism the world over.” Read the review here.

Onwuemezi’s “At the Heart of Things” won The White Review’s Short Story Prize in 2019. Read it here.  

You can read an excerpt of Dandelions here, on Literary Hub.

About Fitzcarraldo February at the Library:

This program is part of Fitzcarraldo February, a series of events at The American Library in Paris featuring authors who have recently published books with the London-based independent publisher Fitzcarraldo Editions. 

Known for their distinctive blue and white covers, and esteemed for their highly selective catalogue, Fitzcarraldo is the leading publisher of innovative, boundary-pushing literature. Founded in 2014 with the mission to publish only twenty-two works per year, the publishing house has already established itself as champion of the most exciting and ambitious literary voices of our time, including four Nobel Prize-winning writers: Svetlana Alexievich (2015), Olga Tokarczuk (2018), Annie Ernaux (2022), and Jon Fosse (2023). The Library is delighted to welcome Marie Darrieussecq, Thea Lenarduzzi, Claudia Durastanti, Vanessa Onwuemezi, Kirsty Bell, and Brian Dillon, all of whose work explores the frontiers of genre, form, and craft, challenging us to rethink what writing can do.

Important information: The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (the speakers will appear in the Reading Room), the Library will stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.

Attendance at this event constitutes permission for your photograph or video to be taken at the event and used by the American Library in Paris for marketing, promotional, pedagogical, or other purposes.

Read along with the Library! If you want to prepare ahead of this event, copies of Dark Neighbourhood will be on sale one week in advance, as well as after the event. Stop by Member Services to purchase your copy. Books are generously provided by Smith&Son.

Attendees will have the opportunity to have their copy signed following the conversation.

Evenings with an Author are free and open to the public (with a 10€ suggested donation)
thanks to the generous support of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of GRoW @ Annenberg.


Tue February 20
19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min
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(Hybrid) Vanessa Onwuemezi and Thea Lenarduzzi: Writing Home
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