Catanoso Visits 'N.C. Bookwatch'
Author Justin Catanoso, born and raised in New Jersey, knew little of his family beyond the Garden State.
That changed in 2001 when he discovered that his grandfather's cousin, Padre Gaetano Catanoso, was a Vatican-certified miracle worker. A typically lapsed American Catholic, Justin embarked on a quest to connect with his extended family in southern Italy and, ultimately, to awaken his slumbering faith.
In an all-new episode of UNC-TV's local literary series "North Carolina Bookwatch with D.G. Martin," premiering Sunday, July 12, at 5 p.m., Justin Catanoso shares the product of that quest: "My Cousin the Saint: The Search for Faith, Family and Miracles," a compelling narrative and testament to the challenge of being Catholic in 21st century America.
"This was the time that I realized for the first time that my own history goes back farther than my father, and my grandfather," says Catanoso. "I wanted to know about that and I wanted to meet these relatives. And it wasn't with the idea of doing a book, but the book idea was luck and maybe a miracle as well."
More than a biography, more than an immigrant memoir, more than a chronicle of renewed faith, it is a love letter to a family now reunited across oceans and years.
"When my family landed in Italy in 2003 was the first time I learned [the saint] was real," says Catanosa. "Italy was remarkable. I spent most of my life as a kid being reticent, and almost embarrassed about my Italian culture -- with all of the Mafia jokes, and 'The Godfather,' and all of those things that you get ridiculed about as an Italian-American. But, when I landed in Italy, I realized that all the things we hold dear in this country have roots in that beautiful place: the art, and the architecture, the fashion and the food, the warm generosity 0f the people, la dolce vita, and the sweet life that they live. And I fell in love with that place. And then we met these relatives. And they were extraordinary."
Justin Catanoso has degrees from Penn State and Wake Forest University, where he has taught reporting, writing, and editing as a visiting lecturer since 1993. His wife, Laurelyn, is an award-winning songwriter and co-founder of the Americana music band, Polecat Creek. They live in Greensboro, with their daughters, Emilia, Rosalie, and Sophia. This is his first book.
For additional information about series guests and airdates, plus links to the 'Bookwatch' blog and online book club, visit www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.
More like this story