Mario Rigoni Stern was born in 1921 in Asiago, in the Veneto Region of Italy. He took part in the Italian 8th Army’s tragic retreat from Russia, helping seventy men under his supervision to escape from the Ukraine and eventually back to Italy.
His first work, the memoir-novel Il sergente nella neve (Einaudi Editore, 1953), or The Sergeant in the Snow, recounts his experiences on the Russian front and placed Rigoni Stern squarely in Italy’s neorealist movement. Il sergente has sold over a million copies world-wide and is considered a classic in Italy. Rigoni Stern’s more than twenty works of fiction with Einaudi recount his wartime experiences but focus especially on his community of Asiago and the surrounding mountains.
Rigoni Stern was the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Campiello Prize, the Italian PEN prize, and, for Giacomo’s Seasons, the Grinzane Cavour Prize. He lived with his family in Asiago, in the house he built by the woods, until his death in 2008. He is survived by his wife Anna and their three sons. In 2010, a multi-lingual literary prize, Il premio internazionale Mario Rigoni Stern, was established in his honor.