Remembering Dorothy (Calvetti) Bryant
Join her daughter, Lorri Ungaretti, and two other fellow Italian-American writers, Lawrence W. DiStasi and Giovanna Capone, in a commemoration of the life and recognition of the work of Dorothy Calvetti Bryant, a pioneer of feminist fiction & of self-publishing. Born in the depths of the Great Depression to Italian-immigrant parents in San Francisco, Bryant was already more than 40 years old and many years into a distinguished teaching career when she published her first novel, Ella Price's Journal, with J. B. Lippincott of Philadelphia in 1972. The book quickly established Bryant as an important addition to the rapidly growing corps of literary feminists emerging at the time across the country. When her literary agent in New York refused to seek a publisher for her next novel, Bryant recalled, "by a co-publishing agreement with a short-lived feminist small press, [it] sneaked in through the back door of Random House and was published in 1976" (under the title The Comforter). After its reprinting as The Kin of Ata are Waiting for you, the book has remained in print ever since. It put Bryant well on her way to literary stardom & into a successful career in self-publishing, culminating in 1986 with an American Book Award for her Confessions of Madame Psyche, an unprecedented feat for a self-published work of fiction.
Ungaretti, who is a leading expert on the history of San Francisco's western neighborhoods, will provide her own intimate reminiscences of her mother's life and work. DiStasi, author of the recent novel Suspect Love, set in San Francisco during World War II, and of an earlier exposé of the internment of Italian Americans during that war, entitled Una Storia Segreta, will discuss some of Bryant's literary work on Italian and Italian-American subjects. Capone, a former employee of the Oakland Public Library and author of In My Neighborhood: Poetry & Prose from an Italian American will read from and provide a brief synopsis of Bryant's allegorical masterpiece, The Kin of Ata are Waiting for you.
Dorothy Bryant died in Oakland in December 2017. This commemoration of her significant literary contributions is organized by the Western Regional Chapter of the Italian American Studies Association and is part of a regular series of Saturday afternoon "salons" at the Temescal Branch Library featuring local contributors to the cultural fabric of the community. It is also part of an on-going series of programs that kick off the second century of service by this branch.