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A conversation to commemorate Umberto Eco (1932 - 2016) award-winning Italian novelist, essayist, literary critic, philosopher and semiotician.
With the participation of  Salman Rushdie, Siri Hustvedt, and Gianni Riotta.
Readings by Edoardo Ballerini.
Moderated by: Michael Moore

In collaboration with PEN World Voices Festival

Umberto Eco, (5 January 1932 – 19 February 2016) was an Italian novelist, essayist, literary critic, philosopher and semiotician. He is best known for his 1980 historical mystery novel Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose), an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. He later wrote other novels, including Il pendolo diFoucault (Foucault's Pendulum) and L'isola del giorno prima (The Island of the Day Before). His novel Il cimitero di Praga (The Prague Cemetery), released in 2010, was a best-seller.

Eco also wrote academic texts, children's books and essays. He was founder of the Dipartimento di Comunicazione (Department of Media Studies) at the University of the Republic of San Marino, President of the Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici (Graduate School for the Study of the Humanities), University of Bologna, member of the Accademia dei Lincei and an honorary fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford.

He was a visiting professor at Columbia University several times in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1992–1993 Eco was the Norton professor at Harvard University. On 8 May 1993, Eco received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (D.H.L.) from Indiana University Bloomington in recognition of his over fifteen-year association with the university's Research Center for Language and Semiotic Studies. Six books that were authored, co-authored, or co-edited by Eco were published by the Indiana University Press. He frequently collaborated with his friend Thomas Sebeok, semiotician and Distinguished Professor of Linguistics at Indiana University. On 23 May 2002, Eco received an honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 2009, the University of Belgrade in Serbia awarded him an honorary doctorate.


Salman Rushdie, is a British Indian novelist and essayist. His second novel, Midnight's Children (1981), won the Booker Prize in 1981. Much of his fiction is set on the Indian subcontinent. He is said to combine magical realism with historical fiction; his work is concerned with the many connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations.His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), was the centre of a major controversy, provoking protests from Muslims in several countries, and he was put under police protection by the British government.

Rushdie was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Britain's senior literary organization, in 1983. He was appointed Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France in January 1999. In June 2007, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him for his services to literature. In 2008, The Times ranked him thirteenth on its list of the fifty greatest British writers since 1945. Since 2000, Rushdie has lived in the United States, where he has worked at Emory University, Atlanta and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses.

Siri Hustvedt is an American novelist and essayist. Hustvedt is the author of a book of poetry, six novels, two books of essays, and several works of non-fiction. Her books include: The Blindfold (1992), The Enchantment of Lily Dahl (1996), What I Loved (2003), for which she is best known, A Plea for Eros (2006), The Sorrows of an American (2008), The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves (2010), The Summer Without Men (2011), Living, Thinking, Looking (2012), and The Blazing World (2014). What I Loved and The Summer Without Men were international bestsellers. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages.

Gianni Riotta, journalist and writer, currently teaching in the French and Italian Department at Princeton University, is a former Mentor at Columbia and has taught and collaborated with numerous universities around the world. As a journalist he writes for La Stampa and Foreign Policy, and was also editor of TG1 Rai and Il Sole 24 ore, Deputy Editor of La Stampa and Corriere della Sera, and has served as a correspondent and columnist for both the Corriere della Sera and L’Espresso from the U.S. and to this day collaborates with BBC World Service. His books have been translated into various languages and have received numerous awards. Magazines Foreign Policy and Prospect included him in their ranking of “100 Global Thinkers.” He is a philosophy graduate from the University of Palermo, with an MS from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and was awarded an Honoris Causa Degree in Archivistica dell'Archivio di Stato, for his work protecting the Italian cultural heritage.

Edoardo Ballerini is an actor, writer, director and film producer. He is best known for his work on screen as junkie Corky Caporale in The Sopranos (2006–2007), Ignatius D'Alessio in Boardwalk Empire, a hotheaded chef in the indie hit Dinner Rush (2001), and an NFL businessman in the blockbuster Romeo Must Die (2000). He has appeared in numerous films and television series, from I Shot Andy Warhol (1996) to Omphalos (2013). His directorial debut, Good Night Valentino, premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. Ballerini starred in the film as silent film idol Rudolph Valentino.


A special thanks to Noreen Tomassi, Center for Fiction


Streaming of the event available on our web site



Date: Thursday, April 28, 2016

Time: At 6:30 pm

Organized by : ICI

In collaboration with : PEN World Voices Festival

Entrance : Free

Event is now full


Italian Cultural Institute of New York