Helen Barolini

HELEN BAROLINI is the author of many books, including The Dream Book, for which she won a National Book Award, and Umbertina, and over fifty stories and essays, which have appeared in numerous publications and collections including Best American Essays 1998.

Awarded a writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for her first novel, Umbertina, Barolini is the author of nine other books and many short stories and essays that have been cited in annual editions of Best American Essays. She has received an American Book Award and other honors, has been a Resident fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center on Lake Como, and a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome. Three of her books have appeared in translation in Italy where she has lectured as an invited American author.

Helen Barolini was born and raised in Syracuse, NY and attended local schools. She attended Wells College, graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University and received a Master’s degree from Columbia University. She was an exchange student at the University of London where she studied contemporary English literature, and then traveled in Europe writing “Letters from Abroad” for the Syracuse Herald Journal. Following studies in Italy, she married the late Italian author and journalist Antonio Barolini.

In their married life of several moves between Italy and the United States, Helen Barolini became the English translator of Antonio’s writings that were published in The New Yorker, Reporter and other American publications.

She has been an invited writer at Yaddo and the MacDowell colony and a writer in residence at the Mark Twain Quarry Center of Elmira College.

Given the intercultural themes of her work linking her American birth and education with her ancestral Italy, Helen Barolini has participated in international conferences and her work has been the subject of many student theses both here and abroad.

Barolini has been honored by MELUS, the American Italian Cultural Roundtable, the Sons of Italy, the Italian Welfare League and other organizations for her literary work on the Italian American experience.


2010 Hudson Valley Writers Award

2008 Italian Literary Prize, Premio Acerbi for Italian edition of the novel Umbertina

2006 Eugene Walter Short Story Award

2003 Woman of the Year Award in Literature from Italian Welfare League, New York

2003 Sons of Italy Literature Award

2001 Ars et Literas Award from the American Italian Cultural Roundtable

2000 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States

2000 Chiaroscuro: Essays of Identity included in Houghton Mifflin’s Notable Works of American Literary Non-Fiction in their publication Best American Essays of the Century

1987 Susan Koppleman Award of American Culture Association for the best anthology in the feminist study of American Culture for The Dream Book

1986 American Book Award of The Before Columbus Foundation for The Dream Book

1984 Americans of Italian Heritage “Literature and the Arts Award”

1982 American Committee on Italian Migration “Women in Literature” Award for Umbertina

1977-79 Member, The Writers Community, New York City

1976 National Endowment for the Arts Grant in Creative Writing

1970 Marina-Velca essay prize in Italy

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