Gigliola Sulis


Sardinianness across borders: Sardinian multilingual novels in translation

Italian fiction of the late 1990s and 2000s has been characterized by a return to regionalism and multilingualism, especially in the genre of crime fiction (e.g. the Camilleri phenomenon). In this context, journalists and critics have emphasized the emerging of a ‘Sardinian wave’, or ‘nouvelle vague sarda’, i.e. novels written by Sardinian writers, set in the island, with a strong ethnic element, and interspersing the Italian language with frequent borrowings from Sardinian. Many of these novels have received national acclaim (e.g. the Campiello prize to La vedova scalza by Salvatore Niffoi, 2006, and to Accabadora by Michela Murgia, 2009) and have been translated into foreign languages.

This paper will focus on the process of translation into English and French of a selection of these novels, and on the tensions towards either domestication or foreignization of the Sardinian element, both at linguistic and cultural level. The aim is to reflect on what happens to the ethnic element characterizing this type of fiction – an element immediately perceived by the Italian national reader thanks to the use of the local language (toponomy, onomastics, short or extended borrowings) – when novels pass through the Italian national borders and are received in other cultures, where the peculiarities of Sardinianness are not necessarily evident to the average reader.


Gigliola Sulis is Associate Professor of Italian at the University of Leeds. Her research interests are multilingual literature (from its theoretical underpinnings to the poetics and ideology of individual authors, especially in relation to the modern novel), regional literatures, cultural and artistic representations of Italian polycentrism and of the tension between local and national dimension.

She has published on multilingual literature, the language and style of contemporary Italian writers (e.g. Luigi Meneghello, Andrea Camilleri, Joyce Lussu, Laura Pariani, Sergio Atzeni, Marcello Fois), the literary canon, modern dialect poetry, Sardinian literature, and twentieth-century women’s writing.