Alain Elkann, born in 1950, is perhaps best known for his “Life of Moravia,” in which he was the chosen interlocutor of the famed novelist Alberto Moravia.The Jewish Italian author and journalist has also published two books of conversations with the chief rabbi emeritus of Italy, Elio Toaff, “To Be A Jew” and “The Messiah and the Jews,” both from Edizioni Bompiani.
Unfortunately, few of Elkann’s books are available in English, aside from a few short novels published by Pushkin Press. Such is also the case with Elkann’s new memoir, “Grandma Carla,” also from Bompiani, a moving elegy to his late mother which certainly merits translation.
In 1938, Elkann’s mother Carla Ovazza fled wartime fascism to Manhattan with her husband Jean-Paul Elkann, a banker and the longtime president of Paris’s Consistoire council, a leading French Jewish organization. Returning to her native Turin after the war, Ovazza renewed friendships with Primo Levi, Rabbi Toaff, and Tullia Zevi, the remarkable nonagenarian who served as president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.