Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Adria Bernardi  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: Highland Park, Illinois

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-- Adria Bernardi on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Adria Bernardi grew up in Lake Bluff and Lake Forest. In 1989 she received her M. A. from the University of Chicago, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Italian Literature.

Biographical and Professional Information

Adria Bernardi is the author of two novels, Openwork and The Day Laid on the Altar, which was awarded the 1999 Bakeless Prize by Andrea Barrett, and a collection of short stories, In the Gathering Woods, which was awarded the 2000 Drue Heinz Literature Prize by the late Frank Conroy. Her translation of the work of the Italian poet Raffaello Baldini, Small Talk, was published in 2009 by Gradiva Publications. She was awarded the 2007 Raiziss/de Palchi Fellowship by the America Academy of Poets to complete this work. Her translation of the poetry of Rinaldo Caddeo was published under the title Sirens’ Song. She has also translated Adventures in Africa by Gianni Celati and Abandoned Places by Tonino Guerra. She is the author of an oral history, Houses with Names: The Italian Immigrants of Highwood, Illinois. Bernardi has taught fiction writing at the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. She lives in Nashville, Tenn.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Houses with Names: The Italian Immigrants of Highwood, Illinois
ISBN: 0252015819

University of Illinois Press. 1989

Combining her other research with interviews of nearly fifty Italian immigrants of her grandparents' generation, Adria Bernardi has crafted a memorable oral history of a community of working-class immigrants. Bernardi tells their story clearly and with care, interspersing transcriptions and translations with her own recollections and interpretations of life among the Italian immigrants of Highwood.

The Day Laid on the Altar
ISBN: 0452282578

Plume. 2001

A fictional account of the lives of sixteenth-century Italian artisans, artists, and peasants explores their different responses to similiar life-and-death experiences as they deal with the demands of fame, family, and art against the backdrop of a plague devastating the region. Winner of the Bakeless Fiction Prize. Reprint.

In the Gathering Woods (Pitt Drue Heinz Lit Prize)
ISBN: 0822957825

University of Pittsburgh Press. 2002

2000 Drue Heinz Literature Prize Winner
Selected by Frank Conroy

In the Gathering Woods contains a cast of characters who hail from the same Italian ancestors, but whose stories come at us unbounded by time and space. The book opens early in the twentieth century, with a narrator’s boyhood recollections of gathering mushrooms with his grandfather—a narrator who seems still haunted by a terrifying local legend that tormented him as a boy. We skip backward to a young shepherd-artist in the Apennine mountains in the 1500s, who yearns to be discovered, as Giotto was. Later, a preverbal baby accumulates bits of the conversation carried on by adults at the table above her head a neurologist from Chicago returns to the Apennines to deposit shards of glass at a grave.

Whether they speak in the lost dialect of an immigrant, of infancy, or of an adolescent girl’s school lessons, these stories call up fragments of language in a struggle to understand and attempt to console through the act of reassembling. The language of these stories is both lyrical and comic, providing insight through the details of Bernardi’s writing.

ISBN: 0870745107

Southern Methodist Univ Pr. 2006

In hauntingly evocative prose, Adria Bernardi creates a finely stitched fabric depicting the intertwined lives of three generations of closely related Italian families. At the novel’s beginning, Imola Bartolai’s lucid, yet troubled voice speaks from a mountain village on the border of Tuscany in northern Italy where she lives a hard life close to the land with her wandering husband and three children. Her favorite brother, Egidio, seeks a better life in America in the coal mines of Dawson, New Mexico. When Egidio’s quiet voice is silenced by a horrific accident, the voice of his childhood friend and traveling companion, Antenore Gimorri, passionately urges their fellow workers to join the struggle for labor rights. As a stonemason, Gimorri raises three sons in the Chicago area, and it is his granddaughter, Adele, fully assimilated into American life, who closes the circle, traveling to Italy in search of her family’s roots. In the novel’s final section, her voice imaginatively joins Imola’s as the two women, separated in time by a hundred years, find that there are many threads that bind them.

Dead Meander
ISBN: 1888553545

Kore Press. 2013

Literary Nonfiction. Memoir. Born out of fragments of breakages made by leavings off, such as occurs in immigration and other traumatic experiences, the IPPY Award-winning essays of DEAD MEANDER investigate how things can be made whole, or more whole, in the time following such leavings, transitions and traumas.


2011 The Christopher Isherwood Foundation Fellowship. R.V. Cassill Grant. 2002 Worcester Cultural Commission, Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship 2007 Raiziss / DePalchi Translation Award, American Academy of Poets, to complete the translation of Small talk, by Raffaello Baldini. 2000 Awarded the 2000 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, by Frank Conroy, for the collection of short stories, In the Gathering Woods (University of Pittsburgh Press)

1999 1999 Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for Fiction by Andrea Barrett, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Middlebury College (University of New England Press)

1999 First Prize, Essay, Hep-Lock, Missouri Review. 1998 A.E. Coppard Prize for Fiction. 1995 James Fellowship for Novel-in-Progress, Heekin Group Foundation Awards.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

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