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Author Christopher Castellani Returns on Tuesday, April 9, with a Widely Praised New Novel, "Leading Men," about Tennessee Williams's Life of Love, Glamour, Desire and Ambition in Italy in the 1950s

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Christopher Castellani, the award-winning novelist of three critically acclaimed works of fiction reaching back in to the Italian immigrant background of his family, will return to the South End Library on Tuesday, April 9, with his acclaimed new book of fiction about Tennessee Williams’s time in Portofino, Italy, in the early 1950s, Leading Men. With a focus on the playwright’s longtime relationship with Frank Merlo, the Boston Globe calls it a “seductive, steaming novel.” The New York Times book reviewer, Dwight Garner, describes it as a novel that casts "a spell right from the start” and “vividly reimagines” the relationship between Williams and Merlo, while offering “intricate thoughts about the nature of fidelity, the artistic impulse, and estrangement.”  The author will be introduced by Aaron Lecklider, Professor of American Studies at UMass, Boston, who wrote Inventing the Egghead: The Battle over Brainpower in American Culture.

Playwright Tennessee Williams with Frank Merlo in the 1950s.

Playwright Tennessee Williams with Frank Merlo in the 1950s.

Also serving as artistic director of Grub Street, the country’s largest independent creative writing center, Castellani was at the South End library in 2014 to read from All This Talk About Love, the last of his trilogy about Italian-American immigrants, a novel that was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and finalist for the Ferro-Grumley Literary Award. In addition to  A Kiss from Maddalena, which won the 2004 Massachusetts Book Award;  The Saint of Lost Things, a BookSense (IndieBound) Notable Book; and All This Talk of Love, Castellani authored, The Art of Perspective: Who Tells the Story, a collection of essays on point of view in fiction.

He received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council to write Leading Men. Castellani is on the faculty and academic board of the Warren Wilson MFA program and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference.

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