His Contempt and My Disgrace

Original title: Stirpe e vergogna

Publication Date:

October 2021



Original language and publisher

Italian | Rizzoli

Territories Handled

English (North America), Netherlands

Territories Sold

France (Stock)
Germany (Eichborn)
English (World) (Gazebo Books)


Autobiography, Literary Fiction, Memoir

His Contempt and My Disgrace

Original title: Stirpe e vergogna


“Michela Marzano deliberately decides to “undress” herself; in her violent words there is no compassion towards herself: she is never good enough, she is unable to be happy and unable to be a mother. Michela Marzano recomposes the past through a powerful story that shapes the present.” – Il Foglio

Intimate and open at once, Michela Marzano’s research reveals the silences of a country who has never really come to terms with history. — Simonetta Fiori, La Repubblica

Stirpe e vergogna makes human feelings objective, even the most extreme ones, and makes them living memory. A merciless self-portrait, a heartfelt plunge that re-reads the past and reminds us why we mustn’t allow it to repeat itself. — Il Sole 24 Ore

“A visceral book, a punch in the stomach. Marzano understood the sadness that she has lived all these years was a consequence of a secrecy that overwhelmed her childhood, her youth, her entire life.” – il Messaggero

“In this book, so authentic and fierce, Marzano reminds us that until we don’t go into the darkest corners of the stories nobody wanted to tell us, we won’t be innocent but accomplices.” – La Stampa

“Marzano’s bold and unforgettable book tangles together blood, heritage and memory, but above all a secret that brings new awareness and rebirth.” – il Corriere dell’Alto Adige

Michela Marzano found the courage to go all the way and while she is rebuilding her grandfather’s life, she is also seeking the origin of her sufferings. – F

Over the book, so many questions arise about herself, her father (did he know? if so, did he hide it to protect her?), her family, her country. Michela Marzano answers them with transparency and honesty, without voyeurism or pretentiousness. Stirpe e vergogna: when a revelation in the history of a family, thanks to literature, gives birth to another revelation, that of oneself. A great work of art. — Le Figaro

Michela Marzano succeeds masterfully and finally finds peace. — Le figaro Littéraire

On the other side of the Alps, we will dive into a compelling and engaging story, always endearing. — Marianne

Michela Marzano won us over from the very first page. A family secret throws us into History. This story is both a liberating act and a magnificent reflection on the present. On each page, Marzano is driven by her need for truth, so intense that it deeply captivates the reader. — Alice D’Andigne, Éditions Stock

Michela Marzano is an amazing writer who goes in depth: one of her qualities is the way she bravely challenges her own sense of guilt, moving its boundaries further and further away. In this book, so authentic and fierce, she reminds us that until we don’t go into the darkest corners of the stories nobody wanted to tell us, we won’t be innocent but accomplices. — Nadia Terranova, TuttoLibri

Memory imagines and interprets, distorts and reproduces. But is the truth that comes along authentic? Does it allow us to move on?

Renowned writer and columnist, an Italian parliamentarian at the forefront of social and civil rights, Michela Marzano has always believed she is “on the right side of history”. At least until the day she accidentally discovers the clear evidence of her grandfather’s belonging to fascism. How is it possible? How could a cultured man, a magistrate and refined jurist like him embrace the ideas of Mussolini from the very beginning and contribute to declaring the end of democracy? And why has her father kept such a secret from her all this time? Feeling all her certainties collapse, Michela decides to dig into the story of her family. Thus, the political and personal vicissitudes of her grandfather intertwine with those of her father, as well as Michela’s childhood, youth and adult life. Among old letters and ancient documents, memories of different pasts come alive, those of three generations that in a century have witnessed Italy’s countless attempts to reinvent itself, without ever succeeding (or wanting?) to really change. Digging into the hazy memories of her family, Michela explores Italy’s refusal to deal with the legacy of fascism, which has been collectively removed from people’s consciousness to the point that now it seems that no one has ever been a fascist and very few people admit to having had a fascist grandfather or great-grandfather.

A painful, necessary book that mixes family memoir, fiction and autobiographical fiction, questioning the legacy of memory, the nature of guilt, and the indissoluble bond between the events of personal and family history and the steps of History, which all together continue to shape our present and future, as much as they have affected our past.

Marketing Information

  • Nominated for the prestigious Premio Strega 2022!
  • French PDF available
  • #2 Amazon Best-selling Charts
  • Over 50,000 copies sold