Jeff Shapiro
Professor of Creative Writing

Born in Boston, Jeff Shapiro, a resident of Italy since 1991, has worked as journalist for the British edition of Cosmopolitan and for the U.S.-based magazine International. He co-authored Prone to Violence (Hamlyn Paperbacks, London, 1982), a non-fiction book about violence in the family. His first novel, Renato’s Luck (HarperCollins, New York, 2000) has been translated into German, French, and Dutch, with movie rights optioned to Miramax Films. Secrets of Sant’Angelo, his second novel, was published by Berkley Publishing Group (Penguin USA) in January, 2005. As well as teaching Creative Writing at Siena School for Liberal Arts and at the Siena Art Institute, Jeff teaches English Conversation at l’Università Popolare Senese and has worked on the editorial staff of Verso magazine. He is now at workon his third novel.

My love affair with fiction did not begin as a sudden explosion. First passion took the form of non-fiction writing related to my work in the field of family violence. In time I came to believe that fictionalizing often has a magical way of revealing truths far subtler than those reported by writing that sets out to be objective and factual.

Since moving to Italy in 1991, I have discovered that teaching and writing make for perfect companion professions. Though teaching English as a second language holds intriguing intellectual rewards, nothing can compare with the pure pleasure of teaching Creative Writing. I consider myself amazingly fortunate to teach this subject at the Siena School for Liberal Arts (since 2002) and its partner institution the Siena Art Institute. Never have I found a happier, livelier, warmer, more stimulating or compassionate environment.

I’m in love, too, with living in Italy, the patria of human nature, as historian William Heywood called it. Italy is also the homeland of my wife, Valeria.

Languages: English is my native language. Since coming to live in Italy in 1991, I’ve enjoyed the ongoing challenge of making Italian feel as close to native as possible (with only partial success!). Little remains of the French I studied in high school and college; it’s been swallowed up by Italian. I can, on occasion, pray in Hebrew, but would starve if I had to use that language to order food in a restaurant. All I know of Yiddish is the odd yet colorful expletive.

Memberships: Board member and singer in the Polifonici Senesi, a Siena-based chorus to which musically inclined students from the Siena School for Liberal Arts are gladly invited!

Sart life