Paper Fish
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ANTOINETTE "TINA" DE ROSA, author of Paper Fish, was born in Chicago in 1944. She was raised in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood, which often figured in her writing. Paper Fish, first published in 1980 and then republished by the Feminist Press, received the Illinois Arts Council Award for a manuscript-in-progress and was nominated for the Carl Sandburg Award.

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Paper Fish

Tina De Rosa

Preface by Tina De Rosa. Foreword by Sandra Mortola Gilbert. Afterword by Edvige Giunta.

Set in Chicago during the 1940s and 1950s, Paper Fish is populated by hardworking Italian-American immigrants whose heroism lies in their quiet, sometimes tragic humanity. At the center of the novel is young Carmolina, who is torn between the bonds of the past and the pull of the future —a need for home and a yearning for independence.

Carmolina’s own story is interwoven with the stories of her family: the memories and legends of her Grandmother Doria; the courtship tales of her father, a gentle policeman and her mother, a lonely waitress; and the painful story of Doriana, her beautiful but silent sister.

"Paper Fish is a unique piece of work. Tina De Rosa renders experience from the inside, going deeper and deeper . . . as if the smells and sounds and taste of things had a life of their own."

—Marilyn French, author of The Women's Room

"Out of childhood memories, family lore, and an intimate knowledge of Chicago's West Side Italian community, Paper Fish creates a world of radiant particularities—bent hands at domestic work; the feel of rough wool and old palms against a child's face; city noises, cooking smells, and kitchen sounds. This is a world that urban renewal and acculturation intended to sweep away; it is reclaimed in De Rosa's wonderfully focused, tactile prose."

—Michael Anania, author of The Red Menace

"Gorgeous writing and a generosity of spirit—a gift of love."

—Rona Jaffe, author of Class Reunion and An American Love Story

"A novel of daring and intense imagery crafted out of the harsh rhythms of Italian immigrant life. De Rosa's lyricism is not a sweetly coated nostalgia. She holds this remembered world in a rough, respectful embrace."

—Janet Zandy, author of Calling Home: Working-Class Women's Writings

"De Rosa paints memory pictures like haunting dreams of aching beauty. Her poetic prose evokes the ghosts of our own childhood, makes us face them, try to see, hear, smell, and touch them as sharply as she does."

—Dorothy Bryant, author of Miss Giardino and The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You

"De Rosa's virtuoso performance makes Paper Fish comparable to Henry Roth's Call It Sleep. It is a major achievement by one of our foremost artists of Italian/American identity and modern culture."

—Mary Jo Bona, editor of The Voices We Carry: Recent Italian/American Women Writers