After ‘Bruno, il bambino che imparò a volare‘ (which was awarded both the Naples and the Laura Orvieto Prizes) it’s time for writer Nadia Terranova to present her first novel, Gli Anni al Contrario (Einaudi Stile Libero 2015), a book about the political and personal struggle of a young couple in the 70s, for Italy a time of violence and unrest.
Part of the story of ‘Gli Anni al Contrario’ is set in Sicily in the 70s. Giovanni and Aurora, the main characters, are a young couple full of dreams they do not fulfill. What’s more, Giovanni takes the paths towards self-destruction. Why?
They are just human. Aurora is more stable and strong, but less keen to change. Giovanni, instead, has a genuine heart and a lot of energy but he seems not to be able to find his own path . Almost everyone in the 70s were politically engaged, but how many have really achieved something?
They are both politically involved in the protests which are spreading all over Italy, however their marriage seems a traditional one.
Do not forget that we are in Sicily, in a city like Messina. Aurora wants to be different from her family, but she loves Giovanni and her desire to be with him and to be a good mother is more important than everything else. Their marriage is a political act for them, because they marry against their families rules. And they go along with their personal protest when they have a daughter, whom they educate in a completely non-traditional way.
Do you think there still are some Auroras around? Women who are ready to give up everything for the sake of their families?
Surely. But now there is definitely more freedom to choose what you want.
Are you a feminist?
Yes. I like to define myself as a feminist. Feminism is still important, although it’s different from the past. Look at the abortion, for example. It’s unfortunately an issue. To quote the writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ‘We should all be feminist’.
How would you describe Italy to a Brit?
I would recommend to go to Italy on vacation, to enjoy the weather, the landscape and the cultural landmarks. But to give Italy a bit of critical thinking, in exchange.
Not really flattering! So do you think that for Italy there is no hope?
No, there is always hope. I am not pessimistic about the future, but I am a bit shaken by the present.
Some benefits to be Italian?
We have a great past. And we have been creative and innovative in some part of our history. We can rely on this to find the strength to believe in a better future.
You are active on Twitter. What do you think of Umberto Eco’s criticism on social networks that ‘have given the chance to speak to legions of idiots’?
I agree with him, up to a certain point. I think we underuse Internet and its potentials. The web was born to become an instrument of free knowledge and democracy open to everyone. I still think that social networks have a lot of benefits, but it is undeniable that many of us use internet just for endlessly chatting about nothing.
What is London for you?
It is the first trip I made when I was eight years old with my mom and some friends. Now I come every year just for few days. I love London, so vibrant, so challenging.
Where is your London base?
Usually I stay in Bloomsbury. I really like that area, for both its literary history and its atmosphere. Another area that I love is Fritzovia.
So are you ready to move to London?
No. Although every time I come I end up thinking ‘Why not?’.