Ed Vulliamy and Roberto Saviano have something in common. They hate lies. On Saturday 28 May, Vulliamy will interview Saviano at Hay-on-Wye Festival. ‘It’s only four km from the place my dad was born’, says Ed. ‘It will be a comeback for me’.
Both Vulliamy and Saviano belong to the same group: journalists who fight the ‘big lie’ that want our society as healthy, our young people as threatened by drug dealers, mafia people as the bad ones and everyone else as innocent. ‘Saviano is the leader of us all. He’s the stronger voice of the group. I’ve written about narco trafficking as many other journalists and writers. But Zero Zero Zero is the most important book of all’, says Ed.
What will you ask Saviano?
‘It’s his show, not mine and he’ll choose what he wants to discuss. But I’d like to start with Gomorrah, continue with Zero Zero Zero and with his new book, My Italians. I’m impressed by his prose, a very original one. The content is so dramatic we do not pay attention to his style, that reminds me of the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño or Kapuscinsky. The first chapter of Zero Zero Zero is nearly psychedelic. It’s superb, very well written, the literary style is amazing. I’d like to ask him how he writes in such a surreal situation’.
Saviano is paying a very high price for that, in terms of his private life.
‘Who could imagine that when he wrote Gomorrah? Why Gomorrah and not other books about mafia created such a storm? Because it touched a nerve, unlike other books’.
Saviano’s books have not changed the status quo, though.
‘As the Colombian president Juan Miguel Santos said, criminals are not the colombianos, the cartel. The real criminals are consumers, banks who launder money. And London is the epicenter. The money made by ‘ndrangheta or by camorra or even by mafia on hotels, casinos and on waste it’s nothing, peanuts. Billions coming from narco traffic are all in Wall Street, in the City of London, Cayman Island, Panama and maybe in the Far East. The real heart of money laundering, the real capital of criminality is London’.
Ed, who worked extensively on drug trafficking, is very clear. ‘Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, all these country pay the social price, but the facilitation comes from New York and London. Martin Woods, my source when I broke the story, the whistle-blower from Wachovia, said London is the capital of money laundering, more than Switzerland and Cayman Island’.
‘The problem is we all know about Palermo and Philadelphia and Chicago as mafia capitals, thanks to films and literature. Fantasy. Our job is to set apart from mass media pornography that maintain the lie. And Saviano is the director of the orchestra’.
Ed Vulliamy in conversation with Roberto Saviano at Hay-on-Way on Saturday 28 May.