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University of Zurich


This article investigates Gabriella Ghermandi’s novel Regina di fiori e di perle (2007) through two disciplinary perspectives: the first considers music as a historical and social practice through historical observation of Ghermandi’s characters who reference Ethiopian oral traditions; the second explores the contemporary dynamics of migration and transnational identity through textual analysis that critiques how storytelling practices are carried into an Italian context. We argue that the novel reflects a dissemination of oral memory across generations and gender and into a postcolonial setting, and that its characters reflect adaptations to institutional and twentieth-century technological change. Crucially, and more specifically, the fate of singing and storytelling in Ghermandi’s fictional world mirrors the author’s experience of moving between orality and recorded and written forms, not as an evolutionary process but as a reciprocal process. Her fictional tradition bearers (Aron, Yacob, and Mahlet) embody these malleable modes of transmission, reconfiguring stories for a new generation of Ethiopians and Italians.


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