East Liberty, Joseph Bathanti

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 • 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
History Center - Library & Archives Reading Room
FREE, but does not include access to museum exhibitions.

Add to Calendar01/03/2018 07:00 PM01/03/2018 08:30 PMAmerica/New_YorkBooks in the ‘Burgh: East Liberty, Joseph BathantiAs part of the Books in the ‘Burgh literary series, join the History Center for a reading, discussion, and book signing with Joseph Bathanti, author of “East Liberty.”Heinz History CenterHeinz History CenterfalseMM/DD/YYYY

As part of the Books in the ‘Burgh literary series, join the History Center for a reading, discussion, and book signing with Joseph Bathanti, author of the novel, “East Liberty.” This program will also feature respondents Fred Gardaphé, Sam Patti, and Joseph Tumolo.


Admission to this event is free, but does not include access to museum exhibitions.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Register for this and other Books in the ‘Burgh events.


For more information about Books in the ‘Burgh, please contact Haley VanWagenen at hmvanwagenen@heinzhistorycenter.org or 412-454-6373.

For more information about the Italian American Program, please contact Melissa E. Marinaro at memarinaro@heinzhistorycenter.org or 412-454-6426.

East Liberty, Joseph BathantiAbout East Liberty

“East Liberty” is a poetic, passionate coming-of-age novel spanning 1955 to 1963, set in an Italian American neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Roberto “Bobby” Renzo, the novel’s fatherless narrator and main character, lives with Francene Renzo, his beautiful, mysterious, and unconventional mother who gave birth to him out of wedlock. Together the two habitually watch vintage Hollywood movies on TV. Orbiting Bobby and Francene are the Catholic Church; Francene’s gothic, judgmental, Neapolitan parents; and the dramatically shifting culture at large hurtling toward them.

While urged by the nuns at his school to pursue the priesthood — though his dream is to be a big-league baseball player — Bobby is drawn toward the temptations of the secular world and finds himself involved in petty crimes and seduced by his awakening sexuality. As he emerges from his childhood cloud of innocence, his desire to know about his father becomes acute, and he is forced to confront the confusion and contradictions that rule his life.

First published in hardcover in 2001, “East Liberty” won the Carolina Novel Award and was named a finalist for Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in Literary Fiction. This paperback edition features a new foreword by Fred Gardaphé, a distinguished professor of English and Italian American Studies at Queens College/CUNY and the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute.

Joseph BathantiAbout Joseph Bathanti

Joseph Bathanti, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a professor of creative writing at Appalachian State University as well as the former poet laureate of North Carolina. He is the author of eight books of poetry and three novels, including “Coventry,” winner of the 2006 Novello Literary Award, and his collection of personal essays, “Half of What I Say Is Meaningless,” earned the 2012 Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction. His newest novel, “The Life of the World to Come,” was published in 2014 by the University of South Carolina Press.

Joseph Bathanti is former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14) and recipient of the 2016 North Carolina Award for Literature. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including “Communion Partners;” “Anson County;” “The Feast of All Saints;” “This Metal,” nominated for the National Book Award, and winner of the Oscar Arnold Young Award; “Land of Amnesia;” “Restoring Sacred Art,” winner of the 2010 Roanoke Chowan Prize, awarded annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for best book of poetry in a given year; “Sonnets of the Cross;” “Concertina,” winner of the 2014 Roanoke Chowan Prize; and “The 13th Sunday after Pentecost,” released by LSU Press in 2016. His novel, “East Liberty,” won the 2001 Carolina Novel Award. His novel, “Coventry,” won the 2006 Novello Literary Award. His book of stories, “The High Heart,” won the 2006 Spokane Prize. “They Changed the State: The Legacy of North Carolina’s Visiting Artists,” 1971-1995, his book of nonfiction, was published in early 2007. Bathanti is Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and the University’s Watauga Residential College Writer-in-Residence. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville, NC.

Fred Gardephé

About Fred Gardephé

Fred Gardaphé is Distinguished Professor of English and Italian/American Studies at Queens College/CUNY and the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute. His books include “Italian Signs,” “American Streets: The Evolution of Italian American Narrative,” “Leaving Little Italy,” and “From Wiseguys to Wise Men: Masculinities and the Italian American Gangster.”

About Sam Patti

Sam Patti is the proprietor of La Prima Espresso Company, a local coffee retail/roaster established in Pittsburgh in 1988.  He has been a student of Italian American history and culture for over 40 years. Sam teaches and lectures on the subject whenever the opportunity presents itself, always keeping in mind the hard work and sacrifices of his immigrant grandparents and their second generation children – his parents, Napoleon and Josephine.


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East Liberty, Joseph Bathanti, Jan. 3

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