WHO: Kamin Mohammadi
WHAT: BELLA FIGURA:
How to Live, Love, and Eat the Italian Way
WHEN: Published by Knopf May 9, 2018
WHY: “A down-to-earth modern-day fairy tale
for the world-weary.
“An Iranian-born British journalist goes to Italy on an extended work sabbatical and unexpectedly finds the fulfillment that had been absent from her life. When Mohammadi lost what she thought was her dream job as an editor for a prestigious magazine in London, she was overweight, overworked, and miserably unhappy. So she took her severance pay and went to live in Florence, where she gave herself one year to try to make it as a writer.
“Florentines immediately welcomed her with open arms and taught her the concept of ‘la bella figura,’ or ‘making every aspect of life as beautiful as it can be.’ Taking this cultural lesson to heart, the author embraced the slower pace of life. She shopped at open-air markets for fresh foods and learned how to appreciate the benefits of olive oil, which she took like ‘medicine four times a day…sometimes drinking [it] straight from a tablespoon.’ Within a short time, the weight she had been unable to lose in London fell away. Feeling more confident in her newly glowing skin and body, Mohammadi began to wear more stylish clothes that celebrated the femininity she had hidden away in shame ‘under shapeless black clothes.’ When an Italian playboy named Dino came into her life, she exuberantly indulged in a sensuality and sexuality she had all but abandoned. The broken heart she suffered afterward became part of an ‘education’ that led her to greater self-appreciation. Her new openness eventually led her to a man whose life as a twice-divorced father of three children she accepted and loved despite its messy complications.
“Interspersed throughout with delicious recipes and bella figura-inspired lifestyle tips, the book is a down-to-earth modern-day fairy tale for the world-weary that celebrates personal transformation and all things delectably Italian. A charming, delightful memoir of self-transformation.” –KIRKUS REVIEWS
“A charming hybrid of self-help and memoir.
“Mohammadi captures myriad aspects of the Italian lifestyle, and her story’s happy ending is a testament to its benefits.” –PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“A sparkling, month-by-month account of a year in Italy.”
–Margaret Quamme, BOOKLIST
. . . . .
FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK:
She walks down the street with a swing in her step and a lift to her head. She radiates allure as if followed by a personal spotlight. She may be tall or short, slim or pneumatically curvaceous, dressed discreetly or ostentatiously – it matters not. Her gait, her composure, the very tilt of her head is an elegy to grace and self-possession that makes her beautiful whatever her actual features reveal. She is Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Claudia Cardinale, Monica Belluci. She is the Italian woman glorified on celluloid and on the nightly passeggiata you see on your Italian holidays – but she is no figment of the adman’s imagination. She is real and walking the streets of every city, town and village in Italy right now. She is the embodiment of bella figura and she cuts an elegant dash through our mundane modern world.
When I arrived in Florence, I could not have been further from this ideal. Decades of working at the computer had rounded my shoulders, years of looking down into a laptop or phone had slackened my jawline and compressed my neck. The stress of a demanding job and big city life had hardened my features. My eyes were fixed to the ground as I hurried through life, with no time to throw anyone a smile let alone a kind word. Single for years, my loneliness had calcified. I didn’t so much strut with confidence as cringe down the street.
A year in Florence – and discovering bella figura – changed my life.
Knopf. With 12 illustrations. 284 pages. $26.95
To interview the author, contact:
Michiko Clark | 212-572-2568 | firstname.lastname@example.org