Donatella Di Pietrantonio wins 2024 Strega Prize


L’Età Fragile‘ (The Fragile Age) is available at in the original Italian version.

No stage of life is without fears.

Fragility is a constant, whether we are parents or children, whether we are rebuilding our lives or don’t even know where to start. This fragility extends from the present moment to all the threads of the past.

Amanda embodies this fragility; she has returned home cold and distant. Her mother shares this fragility, feeling powerless against Amanda’s silence. Yet, they remain connected through a bond: the Dente del Lupo and an abandoned family-owned campsite beneath that mountain. Ignoring the existence of that place and the events that transpired there might seem easier, but it’s impossible. Years ago, amidst those pastures and forests, something evil happened.

Amanda catches one of the last trains before the lockdown and goes back to the small town near Pescara, the place she once fled. Lucia, her mother, needs only one look at her to see that something inside Amanda has died.

Previously, Amanda’s eyes had sparkled with the city lights of Milan; now, she seems to want nothing more than to disappear, confining herself to her room and barely speaking. Lucia’s priority becomes shielding Amanda from anything that might harm her, even her own grandfather, who is deeply attached to the land.

This grandfather focuses solely on his vegetable patch, pastures, forests, and the mountain he owns. However, a secret cannot be kept from Amanda forever. Beneath the Dente del Lupo, on a plot coveted by developers, lie the remnants of a campsite where something horrific occurred years ago.

Lucia was present that night, a scared and confused young woman, much like Amanda is now. Her father was there too, along with the local shepherds, the campsite owners, forest rangers, and the police. All were present, except for three young women who were gone forever. With her concise, resonant, and deeply moving writing, Donatella Di Pietrantonio once again explores the brutal yet resilient forces at the core of every family.