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Thieves in the Family

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1935520726
ISBN-10: 1935520725
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Editorial Reviews


“Thieves in the Family reads like a scrapbook of memories from working-class Queens and a collection of postcards from the Global Village. Maria Lisella, “a Mediterranean hybrid with the suspicious heart of a peasant on both sides of the Atlantic,” is attuned to our world. Like a satellite dish, she picks up not only local broadcasts from her Italian American neighborhood but also distant signals from places that are transforming both Astoria and Italy: Cuba, Ecuador, India, Mozambique, and Poland. A citizen of Babel, Lisella teaches us to speak in tongues and to survive in a world that is simultaneously falling apart and coming together. If you have been caught in the crossfire between tradition and desire, have fudged a job application or a citizenship exam, have begged, borrowed, or stolen to nurse a sick parent or feed a hungry child, read this book. Thieves in the Family will steal your heart and rifle your brain.” This book will appeal to readers way beyond our ethnic enclave and can be read both for instruction and enjoyment. College professors might assign the collection in undergraduate and graduate courses in multiethnic literature, post-colonialism, postmodernism, and women's studies. You breathe new life into the old proverb: "Tutto il mondo è paese."
Anthony Di Renzo
Bitter Greens and Trinàcria: A Tale of Bourbon Sicily

Maria Lisella's poems are terse, tight and sometimes brutal despite their inner beauty. Every line is earned and dense with feeling. She leaves no room for sentimentality or cheap emotions. These are poems by a woman who knows where she's from and where's she's been and those who read her work will be glad she decided to share that experience with us.
Richard Vetere
The Writers Afterlife

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 108 pages
  • Publisher: NYQ Books (May 30, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935520725
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935520726
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,077,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Maria Lisella's poetry has been twice nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Poetry Prize based on her first two collections: Amore on Hope Street [Finishing Line Press] and Two Naked Feet [Poets Wear Prada] available on Her latest collection, Thieves in the Family, was published in 2014 by NYQ Books.

She co-curates the Italian American Writers Association literary readings -- the longest running series at the Cornelia St. and Sidewalk Cafes i; as well as special events at the CUNY Graduate Center's John D. Calandra Italian American Institute and coordinates events for the Vito Marcantonio Forum.

As a travel writer, Maria Lisella has spelunked in caves in Madhyar Pradesh, rafted the Jordan River, ridden horseback in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored the great art museums of Europe, hiked Mt. Etna in Sicily and Mount Washington in New Hampshire, and sipped Armagnac in Gascony, France.

Born in New York City, Lisella has spent the last 20 years reporting on the travel industry for the travel trade and consumer publications. She contributes to, The New York Daily News, AFAR and Travel and Leisure magazines, Sherman's Travel, and she was a columnist for Diversion and The Star Ledger. She has also developed special projects for tourist offices such as Austria, Flanders and the European Travel Commission.

Recently she has added a new role as an Adjunct Professor at the City University of New York teaching Travel, Tourism and Hospitality and designed and taught a Writing Workshop at Touro College for undergraduate students tackling essays, both personal and academic, as well as theses, emphasizing expository and non-fiction writing.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the kind of easy to read, easy to relate to poetry one might see on NYC subways in their lovely Poetry In Motion program. It is upbeat yet profound. You will find yourself reaching for this book when you want to include a dedication at a family gathering.
For ex, the poem about her father ends with:
"sometimes I lose your voice,
but remember the crease in your
starched white sleeve
as you repaired a pen, a frame,
a dining room chair."

Or her attempt to quiet a Chinese lady on the subway:
"shakes her head from side to side like a Tai Chi exercise, no, no, no
as if to say...
you'll never make me a Westerner,
won't drop my Chinese voice
a single decibel
to suit you and your Anglo-silence on subway cars

...I hear my grandmother's staccato Calabrese vowels
clang against brick walls
in an alleyway in Queens
with the same defiance,
the same pride,
the same sorrow to be in America."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maria Terrone on July 15, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a moving, humanistic work from a poet of great heart who honors the world’s people in all their fragility and complexity. Such poems as “Los Andes in Astoria,” “Polish Interrupted,” and the powerful “Illegal” unforgettably bring the story of immigration to the individual level.

An Italian American, Lisella writes of her own heritage and family members without sentimentality or a hint of cliché in scenes of vibrant detail. Her poems about her father are especially moving. In “Before It Gets Tough,” she recreates a childhood scene where she talked and waltzed with her dad in the kitchen as they waited for their bread to rise—a poem that adds poignancy to “The Last Time” and “Dead Rose,” poems of her father’s final leave-taking.

Every poem in Thieves in the Family is written with honesty, intelligence and grace. Readers cannot fail to be touched by this impressive debut collection.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Maria Lisella's narrative gift is a delight, as she introduces us to people and situations that become memorable. Her poems are both entertaining and moving. I read the book cover to cover in one sitting, and was sorry when it ended.
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