This is no dream, and something more than a novel —Ali Smith
First published in 1961, Lorenza Mazzetti’s The Sky is Falling (Il cielo cade) is an impressionistic, idiosyncratic, and uniquely funny look at the writer’s childhood after she and her sister are sent to live with their Jewish relatives following the death of their parents. Bright and bucolic, vivid and mournful, and brimming with saints, martyrdom, ideals, wrong-doing and self-imposed torments, the novel describes the loss of innocence and family under the Fascist regime in Italy during World War II through the eyes of Mazzetti’s fictional alter ego, Penny, in sharp, witty (and sometimes petulant) prose.
First translated into English as The Sky Falls by Marguerite Waldman in 1962, with several pages missing due to censorship, the novel has been out of print in the anglophone world for many years. We are proud to reissue the text in a beautiful new translation by Livia Franchini that carries over the playfulness and perverse naivete of the original Italian.
One day the Devil came in the guise of a rooster. He scared off the sparrow and polished off what was left of the food. You could tell he was the Devil by his evil expression.
‘We must kill the Devil.’
The rooster was still there, and I thought I caught a glimpse of evil in his eyes. I was afraid that the Devil would take possession of my body and soul.
With a scream, Pierino leaped on the Devil, but the Devil slipped out of his hands. Pasquetta jumped on the Devil, who did not want to die. We all set upon him with sticks and stones, hitting him. Lea struck the Devil’s neck so many times that his head came off. We left him at the foot of the Cross and began to pray.
Then Pierino turned to us and said that Satan wasn’t dead yet. He’d leapt up to Heaven and was clinging onto its edge and so when he plummeted back down to earth he would take a piece of the sky with him.
‘Really?’ said Annie.
We all raised our hands to hold the sky up. Lea began to sing and our arms were raised, our faces burning with the effort of holding the sky in place. The sky was about to fall, the sky was falling; we were standing with our arms raised to hold up the sky. Satan was about to fall down into hell, where his name would be Lucifer. And yet there we were, with our arms raised up to the falling sky. We were red from the effort. Would anyone help us?
with an introduction by Ali Smith,
an afterword by Francesca Massarenti
and drawings by Lorenza Mazzetti
Another Gaze Editions is a publishing imprint created by Missouri Williams and Daniella Shreir, the editors of Another Gaze, a journal of film and feminisms. Launched in late 2022, it focuses on new translations or editions of works (both fiction and non-fiction) by women: including filmmakers or those whose texts have formed the basis for well known films; collections of writing by film critics; and monographs of single films and filmmakers.