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1 December 2013 Edition

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‘Bobby Sands’s ideals and values are still alive’

‘The Diary of Bobby Sands: The Story of an Irish Young Man’ wins literary award ahead of Seamus Heaney, Roddy Doyle and Joseph O’Connor

• Laurence McKeown and Silvia Calamati at the award ceremony

‘A freshness in the language spoken by young people and in a narrative style which is meaningful and clear at the same time’

THE ITALIAN translation of a biography of Bobby Sands for younger readers has been named as this year’s winner of the ‘Citta’ Di Cassino: Letterature Dal Fronte’ international award.

Il Diario di Bobby Sands: Storia di un Ragazzo Irlandese(The Diary of Bobby Sands: The Story of an Irish Young Man) is by Silvia Calamati, Laurence McKeown and Denis O’Hearn.

It is the Italian translation of I Arose One Morning – A Biography of Bobby Sands for Younger Readers by Denis O’Hearn and Laurence McKeown with photographs and additional materials by Silvia Calamati.

It was the winner of the 2011 Alessandro Tassoni Award in Modena for the book published in Italy that most represents the universal values of human rights.

Silvia Calamati is an award-winning writer and author of several books on Ireland.

Denis O’Hearn is Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Laurence McKeown, a playwright and film-maker who co-wrote the feature film H3, is a former hunger striker and was a political prisoner from 1976 to 1992.

Cassino is internationally recognised as a ‘martyr city of Europe’ as a result of the war of 1943-1944 and ‘The Battle of Monte Cassino’ (17 January to 18 May 1944) when the historic hilltop abbey founded in AD 529 was pummelled by 1,400 bombs dropped by the US Air Force.

In 2006, the Italian Cultural Association Letterature Dal Fronte (Cassino) was set up to continue the activities carried out by the ‘Committee to Remember the Battle of Monte Cassino’.

The Letterature Dal Fronte association believes that nothing like a good novel, a good story or a good movie is able to present a better portrait of an era or historical period and it created a prize to recognise this.

The aim of the prize, beyond the purely literary, is to involve young people in the reading of texts by European writers who are regarded as “carriers of testimonies of crises of humanity, wars, disease, persecution, and violence”.

pg15-2Each year the award focuses on a different country and the literature from that country. In 2013, the chosen country was Ireland.

Students from high schools in four Italian cities (Rome, Trieste, Cassino and Pico), together with a scientific panel consisting of representatives of the world of information and culture, vote for the book of their choice.

Seamus Heaney’s Fuori Campo was second in the vote with Roddy Doyle’s The Dead Republic and Joseph O’Connor’s The Star of the Sea coming third and fourth respectively.

The ‘Motivazione Ufficiale’, written and agreed by all the award jury members, formally explained that they decided to give the award to the book on Bobby Sands because what shone through was “the belief in values” and that they could recommend it to anybody:

“Many of the students have confessed they did not know the history of Northern Ireland and we must credit Silvia Calamati, Laurence McKeown and Denis O’Hearn for having uncovered for us this sad chapter of our European history and having done so with a freshness in the language spoken by young people and in a narrative style which is meaningful and clear at the same time.

“Their merit lies also in having reported the facts, using their pen as a scalpel to cut into the open wound of the contrast between British institutions and politics and the consequences of those policies on a people.”

Silvia Calamati and Laurence McKeown were in Cassino to accept the award on Saturday 19 October and to meet the students. On the Friday, H3 (the feature film co-written by Laurence McKeown with Brian Campbell) was screened (with Italian subtitles) in a nearby college and followed by a Q&A with the students, professors, and journalists.

Silvia said:

“This award, the second award in Italy in three years, and the heartfelt interest for this book shown by hundreds of Italian students, indicates that Bobby Sands’s ideals and values that he believed in are still alive and strong all over the world. The decision taken by the Florence City Council to name a street after Bobby Sands is just one of the many examples that show how his ideals, values and desire for a free Ireland cannot be quenched.”

IRA Volunteer Bobby Sands

9 March 1954 – 5 May 1981

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