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In By the Breath of Their Mouths, Mary Jo Bona examines the oral uses of language and the liberating power of speech in Italian American writing, as well as its influences on generations of assimilated Italian American writers. Probing and wide-ranging, Bona's analysis reveals the lasting importance of storytelling and folk narrative, their impact on ethnic, working-class, and women's literatures, and their importance in shaping multiethnic literature. Drawing on a wide range of material from several genres, including oral biographies, fiction, film, poetry, and memoir, and grounded in recent theories of narrative and autobiography, postcolonial theory, and critical multiculturalism, By the Breath of Their Mouths is must reading for students in Italian American studies in particular and ethnic studies and multiethnic literature more generally.