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And there her reputation had remained for the past decade. When remembered it has tended to be for some portion of those three last, undisciplined but important books. In Italy the events of the migrant crisis and upsurge in terrorist attacks over recent years have brought her books back onto the display tables. There remains a considerable pride over this Cassandra daughter of theirs who made it big wherever she went.

Outside Italy her reputation has fared less well. Her publishers, Rizzoli, who did so well from their star author, have still scandalously failed to publish an English translation of the last book in her post-9/11 Islam trilogy. And more unforgivably still her final novel — published posthumously as Un cappello pieno di ciliege (“A Hat Full of Cherries”) — is still not translated or published in English. Nevertheless, a small gap has been filled with the publication of Cristina de Stefano’s biography, Oriana Fallaci: The journalist, the agitator, the legend, translated by Marina Harss (Other Press, £21.99). It is the first major work to emerge in English since its subject’s death, and though it is not definitive, it does benefit from interviews with some of those still alive who were close to her and offers the most readable and approachable overview of Fallaci’s life yet available. De Stefano’s predecessors were not always so lucky. In 1998 an academic at the University of Mississippi, Santo L. Arico, produced Oriana Fallaci: The Woman and the Myth. But what set out as a homage written with its subject’s blessing soon turned into a nightmare thanks to Fallaci’s interference. In the introduction Arico memorably describes how Fallaci’s control over her own myth turned him during the writing of his book from “a devotee . . . to a disenchanted researcher”. That was inevitable. Fallaci could not be quiet while she was alive, and only the grave allows the peace and perspective for researchers and admirers to put her work in its full context. Parts of that bigger context have begun to re-emerge. For example, in recent years some feminists have rediscovered Fallaci’s wrenching account of a miscarriage, Letter to a Child Never Born (1975). Later critics seized on her obsession with Muslim birthrates in Europe, seeing in it an especially sinister expression of xenophobia. But De Stefano’s biography, along with Fallaci’s own 1975 work, adds considerable depth and humanity to this preoccupation, which Ayaan Hirsi Ali memorably described in her 2010 memoir Nomad.

In the epilogue to that work, Hirsi Ali writes her own “Letter to my unborn daughter”, in which she relates her meeting with Fallaci in Manhattan just before Fallaci returned to Italy for the last time. Weak and barely able to speak, Fallaci tells her, “You must have a child. I only regret one thing in my life, and that is that I do not have children. I wanted a baby, I tried to have one, but I tried too late, and I failed.” Hirsi Ali goes on, addressing her “unborn daughter”: “Dear child, she inspired me to have you.”

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April 25th, 2018
11:04 AM
ive always loved Oriana Fallaci. She was a very brave and inspiring woman! <3

December 1st, 2017
3:12 PM
I read the biography in Italian and I liked it a lot. She admired courage above all else, in men and women.

genni pavone
November 14th, 2017
7:11 AM
Oriana Fallaci is an Italian hero, one of those that make me proud to be Italian. I'm sure that when corruption and mafia will be things of the past and an honest genuine Government will rule in Italy, Oriana Fallaci will be greatly honoured as she surely deserve!

October 25th, 2017
5:10 PM
Thanks for an interesting piece and, as always,in your great style of writing

October 25th, 2017
8:10 AM
after reading your excellent book, it is a coincidence that my first thought was what a shame that it was devoid of the passion that ORIANA burned into her texts. no doubt you would have been hung out to dry if it had- so you are excused! never forget this wonderful lady!

Verity True
October 24th, 2017
7:10 PM
A brave and wise writer salutes a brave and wise writer!

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