American Author Louisa Ermelino's Essential Reading for the Holidays
Louisa Ermelino is the author of four novels: Joey Dee Gets Wise, The Black Madonna, The Sisters Mallone and her latest, Malafemmena. She is also the Reviews Director at Publishers Weekly in New York City. Malafemmena, is a collection of stories about "women breaking the rules, the title—Malafemmena—means bad woman. What's a bad woman? Is she bad, is she evil?" said Ermelino. “For me, a malafemmena is a woman who does whatever she wants to do .”
How will you be spending your holidays?
I get lazier and lazier very year but the one tradition I continue is a huge Christmas Eve dinner with friends and family. There are the regulars and then whoever is in town. It's always an international mix of people: Palestinian, Italian, British, Serbian, Taiwanese to name a few and I love it because it’s so indicative of America and New York City. We come from everywhere but we all belong here.
Which books would you like to read during the holidays that you haven't found time to read before?
Since I work at Publishers Weekly I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to books and I keep shelves of the ones I want to read and then I’m overwhelmed. But I’ve got a few picked out: the new Dan Chaon novel: Ill Will (just because he’s a wonderful writer and has a new book) ; Nanni Balestrini’s We Want Everything (I’m thinking my next book will have sections in southern Italy and Balestrini not only captures the spirit of the Mezzogiorno but he has this interesting style where he doesn’t use punctuation); City of Jackals by Parker Bilal, a mystery series set in Cairo. I am crazy about Cairo and Bilal (Jamal Mahjoub) writes the city right off the page; Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood because I am fascinated with Berlin in the 30s. It feels a lot like now. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles because people come into my office, see it on the shelf, and go rapturous, so I don’t want to miss out!
Which book(s) do you re-read regularly during the holidays that you might buy as a gift for a friend?
I don’t re-read anymore and I give books all year round but if I did, it would be the Russians, especially Dostoyevsky. I used to read Crime and Punishment every year. How did I find the time to do that? Maybe it’s time I started again…