This article discusses Goliarda Sapienza s L arte della gioia, which many Italian critics have hailed as the new Gattopardo. The novel was written over nine years, from 1967 to 1976, but for over two decades Sapienza failed to find a publisher. Two years after the author s death in 1996, the small publisher Stampa Alternativa printed 1,000 copies of the novel. Ten year later, L arte della gioia Gioia was published in Germany and France where it enjoyed instant success. As a result of this success abroad, Sapienza s novel finally gained full recognition and public acclaim in Italy, where it was re-published by Einaudi in 2008. In this article, we argue that through the deconstruction of male and female gendered roles, L arte della gioia gioia articulates an unconventional deconstruction and reconstruction of the Italian family and the role of the mother within it. In so doing, Sapienza proposes unconventional mother-daughter bonds based on the recognition of maternal authority. (c) Italian Studies at the Universities of Cambridge, Leeds and Reading 2015.