Ugo Cornia was born in Carpi in 1965.
He graduated in philosophy in Bologna and is a teacher of literature in a high school in Modena.
He began publishing in the magazine Il semplice (1995-1997), edited by Gianni Celati, Ermanno Cavazzoni and Daniele Benati.
His short stories have also appeared in other magazines, such as Il Caffè illustrato, Diario, and L’Accalappiacani. He has collaborated with La Gazzetta di Modena. He made his debut with Sellerio in 1999 with Sulla felicità a oltranza, followed by Quasi amore (Sellerio, 2001), Roma (Sellerio, 2004), Le pratiche del disgusto (Sellerio, 2007), Le storie di mia zia (Feltrinelli, 2008) and Sulle tristezze e i ragionamenti (Quodlibet, 2008)
In 2009 he published with the painter Giuliano Della Casa the volume Modena è piccolissima.
More recent writings include: Operette ipotetiche (Quodlibet, 2010), Autobiografia della mia infanzia (Topipittori, 2010), Il professionale. Scholastic Adventures (Feltrinelli, 2012), Writings of Uncivilized Engagement (Quodlibet, 2013), Animals: (mice cats dogs and my sister) (Feltrinelli, 2014), I am sociable to a fault. Life of Montaigne (Marcos y Marcos, 2015), Holes (Feltrinelli, 2016) and Fables from Reformatory (Feltrinelli, 2019).
He won the Bergamo Prize, the Pisa National Literary Prize for the Fiction section and the Frignano Prize.
His last book is “Sulla felicità a oltranza” (La nave di Teseo).
Sulla felicità a oltranza
La nave di Teseo
An engaging story in which anyone can recognize themselves.
1993, 1995, 1996 are the years that mark Hugh’s life. The times when his aunt, mother and father, the core of his affections and the foundation on which his world as a young man rested, disappeared. “Very tiring but beautiful years,” as he put it, in which the pain of loss is mixed in the story with the poetry and sweetness of remembering the little things. The loves, adventures, disappearances, joys and sorrows of those who must continue to live poised between sadness and longing for happiness while coming to terms with reinventing themselves and their certainties. “On Happiness to the bitter end,” a book with which Ugo Cornia made his debut in 1999, revealing himself to be one of the most interesting Italian authors of his generation, is a sweetly melancholy tale, stretched between regret and the will to be happy, an engaging story in which anyone can recognize himself.
Favole da riformatorio
Evicted or retired wolves, unemployed moose who fall ill with depression, Rapunzel, Onion, and Tomatozoon kidnapped by the agribusiness jihad, a kitten who wanted to become Puss in Boots but has no money to buy boots…
Drawing from and twisting the classic tradition of fairy tales, Ugo Cornia writes and rewrites twenty contemporary fabliaux, respecting by wit the ancient spirit but actualizing its underlying critique of the behaviors and customs of our living. Without ever renouncing lightness and a flat, accessible style, these fables often open up to the deep excavation of feelings-for example, in The Tale of the Stork, who “after a life of indefatigable work, by now tired of everything, had developed within herself the feeling of the extreme tragic nature of existing, which in her head translated into the phrase ‘better would have been never to have been born.'” There is also no shortage of irony towards certain publishing fashions, as in the fable that closes the collection-that of the characters from famous fairy tales who one fine day wanted to leave their fairy tale and move to a noir.
Twenty irreverent and boyish fairy tales for a “reformatory” Christmas.
To open a drawer, a little red box, a beautiful lion-foot chest, a corner piece-all objects that used to be in the old family home-and to find in it “a reminder as if backward.” A reminder of a past received as an inheritance but of which 50-year-old Ugo has only a few memories: the house in Guzzano, once full of life but already empty after his birth, already only a vacation home, and then Aunt Bruna, Aunt Maria, Aunt Fila, Grandpa, Uncle Renato, Uncle Arrigo…
Faced with this emptiness, this hole that is impossible to fill but that it is now necessary to cross, Ugo can only invent his own way to create “a small center of order amidst the forces of chaos.” And the way he invents himself is to tell. So here from the past arise fragments, small adventures, the car rides with grandpa, the barnyard at night, the honeycomb of bumblebees in the attic, the love at the false Limentra dam, faces in the half-light, phrases that return, that one is never finished, it seems like yesterday, strength and courage. But mostly emotions, small anxieties, melancholy, some relief. Except that the narrator has a habit of avoidance, of notching, of “slaterare,” so to the emotions sealed inside those old drawers he comes slowly and slaterando, precisely, speaking of those he has barely known to arrive finally at the loss of his parents: at the dismantling of the dearest affections. “And more dismantling to come, in the universal and continuous dismantling of all things.”
With a comedy steeped in nostalgia, Ugo Cornia tackles the “great mystery of emotions” through a novel nourished by disorienting scraps and docile takes, restoring to us the contradictions and seductive nonsense of our inner world.