On May 9th, Francesco D’Adamo’s Oh, Freedom! was officially announced as the winner of the 2016 Premio Asti d’Appello Junior, an Italian children’s fiction prize.
The decision was reached by a 330-strong jury of young readers from sixteen Italian schools. 159 voted for D’Adamo’s story about a child’s loss of innocence and perseverance in the face of slavery oppression in 1850’s Alabama.
Although the author wasn’t able to attend the award ceremony organised by the Fondazione Biblioteca Astense Giorgio Faletti, he sent a warming letter to the jury:
‘If I was present, the first thing I’d want to know about is the thrill of being apart of a jury for such a major award. Did you feel overwhelmed by the huge responsibility? And above all, did you enjoy the experience? I really hope so, because reading is fun, and writing is even more so. If I was there, I’d tell you why I enjoy inventing stories. I always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was your age. Once I realised this dream, I was able to turn my passion into my work, and there is nothing more beautiful. Remember – if you have a passion, follow it, whatever the cost!’
D’Adamo is best known for his novel Iqbal, which has been translated into English along with other titles including My Brother Johnny and now Oh, Freedom!.
Originally published by Giunti Editore in 2014, D’Adamo tells the story of young Tommy and his escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad network with the help of Peg Leg Joe. A perilous journey awaits him and his family, as they embark from an Alabama plantation in search of a better life.
Translated by Children’s Bookshow director Siân Williams, this exciting adventure is now available to young English readers.
An event will be held at the Italian Cultural Institute in London on Sunday 3rd July, where D’Adamo will will be giving a talk (in Italian with English translation) and actor Samuel John will read extracts of the book in English. If you'd like to attend, please click here.