You Have Been Happy, Giovanni

Titolo originale: Sei stato felice, Giovanni
Book published: March 2018
Book pages: 266
Rights sold to:


Reading the debut of a classic author is like assisting to a natural phenomenon. After all, as Italo Calvino wrote, the first book is the only one that matters, and we should maybe write only that one and then just stop. Sei stato felice, Giovanni has been the big shift in Arpino’s life. The fatal occasion to express himself. The big issue to solve, forever or never again. He was twenty-three years old and was staying in a little filthy and seedy guesthouse in Genoa. It took him twenty days. Twenty days to invent a voice and a landscape, to say goodbye to his friends, to his youth, to his impossible love stories, to so many joys and desperations of all precarious ages. To put Hemingway, Steinbeck, Vittorini and the French cinema behind himself. And the long war period. 


Arpino’s debut novel is a book of partings. A story that is like the last drunk before waiting for the adult age and the miserable future. The adventure of who wears his solitude like a hat and feels like a missing bullet, the adventure of a survivor who doesn’t know of what. The protagonist knows he has to move, find a job. But in the meantime he gets drunk, argues, falls in love, owes money and has misfortunes. He is lazy, cruel and wasteful. He cannot do anything else but live at the port, have its smell, belong to a humanity of sailors, prostitutes and tramps. A port called Genoa, with its thin and moving sea air, but it could also be Buenos Aires or any other place.  

GIOVANNI ARPINO 1927 / 1987 

Sei stato felice, Giovanni was published by Elio Vittorini in the important and prestigious review I Gettoni in 1952. After this, Arpino wrote more than thirty books and worked for many years as a sport journalist. Rights for his books have been sold to many countries, like France (Belfond and Autremet) and USA (Penguin Classics). He possessed a unique tone and he is among the very few who won both the Strega and Campiello prizes. 

Press reviews

Simona Maggiorelli - Left

La vitale testimonianza di un irregolare della letteratura.
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Andrea Caterini - Il Giornale

Contrordine, lettori: i grandi romanzieri sono per piccoli editori.
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Giuliano Malatesta - Studio

Un testo che ha il sapore di fine gioventù ma non ancora di età adulta, dove si respira l’aria salmastra di porto, si incontrano marinai e puttane, ci si sbronza, si parla di ribellione e si pensa a H...
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Robinson - la Repubblica

Un estratto dalla posfazione di Gianni Mura a "Sei stato felice, Giovanni" di Giovanni Arpino.
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Crocifisso Dentello - il Fatto Quotidiano

Un cambio di prospettiva nella ricezione dell'opera di Arpino.
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Evelina Guerreschi - Finzioni

Gli italiani entrano a gamba tesa nella collana Classics con il romanzo d’esordio di Giovanni Arpino.
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Angelo Cennamo - Telegraph Avenue

Una storia di sbronze, un inno all’amicizia, alla libertà, alla vita, scritto di getto da un giovane autore di belle speranze che merita di essere riscoperto.
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Saverio Mariani - attaccato e minuscolo

Un affastellarsi straordinario e affascinante di sensazioni, memorie, racconti, fame, solitudine e ricerca della felicità.
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Gabriele Ottaviani - Convenzionali

Un mondo marginale ma impregnato di autenticità, narrato senza infingimenti, ricco di citazioni e suggestioni, in primo luogo della grande letteratura americana, ma al tempo spesso originale.
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Mondo Padano

Una storia che stordisce per la sincerità con cui è scritta e arriva dritta al cuore grazie allo stile scarno ma chirurgicamente perfetto.
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