I haven’t read books nearly enough in the last few years, and it has been on my bucket list for a while. Along with down time, relaxation and a holiday! So imagine my joy at discovering local/international author Federica Marchesini.
I love to laugh and when she started writing her first novel in 2008, she never thought it would materialise. Now, nine years later the Camps Bay resident has finally published the finished product, Afritalian, and is is a good laugh!
The book presents a mix of Cape Town and Italian cultures and languages – all from a European point of view.
Says Marchesini: “There is such a melting pot of cultures in Cape Town that you almost forget we actually live in South Africa. I love it because I have more diverse friends here than the ones I would have if I lived in Verona, my home town,” says the author, who moved to South Africa in 2001.
“I was working in Germany before and working for a high-end fashion company. I came here for an internship and loved it so much I ended up staying. I have done so many different things since I came here and learnt so much about working in an African country. In some ways, it is easier because the red tape is not as hectic as in Europe, but obviously the other side of the coin is that when you look for efficiency you need to be patient. I have had to learn to accept compromise between cultures, which is also one of the key elements in my novel.”
Marchesini says she has always had a love for writing and decided to pursue a career in foreign languages and tourism.
“I have always wanted to travel and explore new countries and new cultures and speak to people. I studied Italian, English, French, Spanish and German and now I teach Italian, English and French in Cape Town as my main job.
“I wanted my novel to be a little bit of a guide book for Italians. I actually set a very entertaining scene at the Waterfront, where the seals are lying at the quay. In Italy, it is not common to find seals at a shopping centre – you see them only at the zoo. So I told a story of an Italian family reacting to them while exploring and enjoying the Waterfront lifestyle.
“The Italian word for seals is ‘foche’ – pronounced ‘fok he’. You can imagine how funny it is for a Capetonian to hear the Italians calling out the seals to get their attention.”