Alessandra Addari / Culture

“L’Espagnole”, the Novel of Migrants…


…was published in March and marks European Union consultant Raffaella Greco Tonegutti’s first book, describing a multi-cultural environment in which a group of people’s language, love and sufferings are intertwined.

“L’Espagnole” is Madame Isabel, an elderly widow who, as a young woman, emigrated to Belgium to escape Francoist Spain and reach her miner husband Pablo. She rents rooms to ensure her survival in a multi-ethnic and rainy Brussels.

Around her the stories of young people from all over Europe are spun and woven. They are in Brussels for reasons of work or study, and are full of dreams and opportunities to be seized. There is the Spanish Simon, who is always searching for new conquests, the Portuguese irascible Ana la loca, the Greek Aspasia always distracted and with a tangled love life and finally Maddalena, who fled from Italy and from a love affair and is now in Belgium to a research immigrant miners in Flanders in World War II.

While Isabel observes those lives transitioning, their loves, their sufferings, their identity that seek their place in the world, Maddalena listens to the stories of escape from Franco’s Spain, the stories of a Europe full of borders, the plight of the miners, the hardships of being an immigrant and the difficulty of integration.

This book’s protagonists are not only the two women but the women’s whole universe in its various facets and different experiences related to each other from the adventure of migration: “L’Espagnole” tells the force with which migrant women deal with the indefiniteness of living elsewhere.

Raffaella Greco Tonegutti was born in Rome in 1979. She has a degree in African History at the Sorbonne (Paris), she is an expert on migration and human rights and she is a European Commission consultant, working for the elaboration of African countries migration policies. “L’Espagnole” is her first novel, based on a research’s experience in oral history among the wives of Italian, Spanish, Moroccan and Turkish miners transplanted in Belgium.

The text is currently being sold in Italian bookshops, in Brussels (Piola Books ) and Paris (La Tour de Babel), as well as online at and

Alessandra Addari


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