Helene Stapinski, Murder in Matera
Coming to us from Jersey City, New Jersey, is author Helene Stapinski, who regales us with a true-life murder mystery from her family tree, documented in her book Murder in Matera: A True Story of Passion, Family, and Forgiveness in Southern Italy.
Since childhood, Stapinski had heard lurid tales about her great-great-grandmother, Vita, especially from her Italian mother, who was a master storyteller. Vita had fled Southern Italy, supposedly because of a murder, possibly precipitated by the theft of some pears. Stapinski spent ten years researching her family history, including numerous trips to Basilicata, the rural “instep” of Italy’s boot -- a mountainous land rife with criminals, superstitions, old-world customs, and desperate poverty, its midday heat like “stepping into a pizza oven." Weaving Helene’s own story of discovery with the tragic tale of Vita’s life, Murder in Matera is a literary whodunit and a moving tale of self-discovery that brings into focus a long ago tragedy in a little-known region remarkable for its stunning sunny beauty and dark buried secrets. Reviewers have called the book "a thrilling detective story," "a model of investigative reporting," "an enticing page-turner, and "a rollicking, magical tale."
Stapinski received her BA in journalism from New York University in 1987 and her MFA from Columbia in 1995. She is the author of two other memoirs: Five-Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History and Baby Plays Around: A Love Affair, with Music. She has written extensively for The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine, Salon, Real Simple, New York magazine, and dozens of other newspapers, magazines, and blogs and has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, The Today Show, and as a performer with The Moth main stage. Stapinski lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.