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Flatbush Flashback

The Renaissance of Nowhere Man

Robert Rosen (left) and Paolo Palmieri, Pisa, Italy, March 2011. Photo by Mary Lyn Maiscott.
Last week my Italian translator, Paolo Palmieri, informed me that he had in his hands five printed copies of the Italian edition of Nowhere Man: Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon, and that the book would be on sale in Italy in a few weeks. Could there be a more appropriate country for a Nowhere Man Renaissance?

My literary relationship with Paolo began three years ago, when I received an e-mail from a stranger in Tuscany who’d read an English language edition of Nowhere Man. “Why,” he asked, “is there no Italian edition?”

“Good question,” I replied.

Paolo took it upon himself to find a publisher—Coniglio—and then translate the book. For the first time I’ve had an opportunity to work closely with a translator, and clarify, over the course of about a thousand e-mails, the countless words and passages that would have otherwise been lost or obscured in translation, which Paolo then explained in footnotes—the first foreign language edition to do so. This translation, in short, is a labor of love.

Now that the book exists, Paolo is going to give readings, talk about it to the media, blog about it, tweet about it, and promote it in any way he can think of. Which makes him a lot more than my translator. He is my Italian Avatar.

It’s been more than 11 years since the original hardcover edition of Nowhere Man was published in the United States. Can we all just agree now that the book is a classic?
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