Mario Desiati and his summer after the Premio Strega: “Dazed and struck by so much affection”

NoonAugust 7, 2022 – 5:30 pm

“Have the criticisms become offended? Honestly, I really avoid reading them, I don’t go looking for them and I don’t like it when someone brings me back a slander “

from Giancarlo Visitilli

Mario Desiati, winner, with the legendary bottle of Strega

Mario Desiati is the Strega Prize with Spatriati (Einaudi). Born in Locorotondo, class of ’77, in addition to being a writer, he is a poet and journalist. He spent a large part of his life in his beloved Martina Franca (in the province of Taranto), alternating his residence between Rome and Berlin. Before making his debut with his first novel, Desiati was a political and sports news reporter, then his law degree, obtained at the University of Bari in 2000, allowed him to work in a law firm, also writing essays on responsibility. civil. At the age of 26 he moved to Rome, becoming editor-in-chief of the magazine Nuovi Argomenti and junior editor of Arnoldo Mondadori Editore. From 2008 to October 2013 he was in charge of the editorial direction of Fandango Libri, which today merged into the independent group Fandango editore. He has written and published poems, anthologies, essays and novels. He collaborates with La Repubblica and L’Unità.

Mario Desiati was responsible for the discovery of Roberto Saviano writer. And as a writer, Mario’s books have also been transposed to the big screen: from Il Paese delle spose unelici (Mondadori), Pippo Mezzapesa and Antonella Gaeta have scripted the film of the same name, presented at the Venice Film Festival. Desiati’s novels are translated into English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch and Korean. The Strega 2022 Prize has never abandoned social commitment in his works, especially in the description of wounds and social phenomena, never separated from the real lives of men and women who live in the territories imagined in his texts. It was like this for Ternitti (Mondadori), Candore (Einaudi), up to the last Spatriati.

His characters live on the earth they step on and breathe in the skies that dominate their lives, eternally on the run. And that’s also why the writer it has won numerous other awards: Volponi Prize for Precarious Life and Eternal Love (Mondadori), Mondello Prize for The Country of Unhappy Brides, Vittorio Bodini Prize, V edition, for his poems, already a finalist in the Strega Prize with Ternitti, which he then won this year. Mario is an un-credible writer. We remind him, on the occasion of this interview, for all those times that, on the occasion of dinners with friends, Mario begins to tell the stories of him, serious, very serious, and which also last a long time in the descriptions of him. When the audience around him is sorry for what happened, is incredulous at what he tells or would like to react to the absurd story just heard, it turns out that Mario’s are inventions. Because Mario is gifted with a superfine and incredible imagination, although he remains among the most credible writers, compared to what he experienced about him and what he has always told in his books about him.

Mario, the Witch, in hindsight? Did you have time, time, space to think about what happened to you?
“I am dazed. The following days were very intense, both for the affection and for the quantity of messages ».
Many have aroused surprise, in some criticisms and even gratuitous offenses, your way of presenting yourself in public, but we are in Italy … You have been credible, a true expatriate. What has come back to you also in relation to these behaviors which, given the dark times, may be destined to worsen?
“The criticisms were part of the game, otherwise I wasn’t writing Spatriati. As for the criticisms that have become offended, I honestly avoid reading them, I don’t go looking for them and I don’t like it when someone brings me back a slander. There is a big difference between gossip and backbiting. Sometimes a gossip can also be benevolent, slander never ».
Did you go there to drink the Witch in the company of Alessandro Leogrande?
«In October, I perform the rite. It is a dedication to Apulian writers and I open it in Taranto because he has always been there and because Taranto is the province that cuts Puglia in two, I would like to mention some of the writers who formed me, this recognition for me is just a recognition of ours literature”.
How has your daily life changed?
“I have to say a lot of no and I’m not used to it and I’m sorry about that.”
How did mom and dad experience the Witch? And in your town?
“I felt moved, and in the village I had the opportunity to feel the effects of many friends.”
Did you realize that we are in the summer or living “in the blender” you don’t even have time to notice the sea, the mountains … Are you going on vacation? Where is it?
“I had a ticket to Berlin on July 8th. I also had work commitments there, and I had already made arrangements with my friend Sigfrid to take the room until November, but now I can’t even imagine how I can go back for more than two days. I hope to go there in the autumn ».
Have you had the opportunity to read beautiful things that you would recommend, in this period that accompanied you to the Strega?
«I have read a lot, for example my travel companions in recent months, I have read all the other eleven finalists and it is nice to meet so different souls in novels very distant from each other but which in some way dialogue. I would like to mention them all, but the lines of the piece would not be enough. And then I’d like Raffaele Carrieri to rediscover himself, a beautiful edition of Fame a Montparnasse has been re-published for a few months by Musicaos editore, and Maria Marcone has just returned to the bookshop Storia di Franco with La Meridiana. I wrote the preface with the hope that it will finally return to the bookstore Analysis in the family and the other novels of the author from Foggia. These days I am reading Il Duca (Einaudi) by Matteo Melchiorre and Ferrovie del Mexico (Laurana) by Gian Marco Griffi, an encyclopedic novel that has greatly impressed me ».
Have you claimed to be writing the new novel, will Francesco and Claudia still be there or will we still return to the stories as in Candore?
“A new character and a story with a much longer story arc. At least a century and a half ».
Another Apulian author wins the Strega. How are we doing in writing in our region? Because as far as reading is concerned, we would prefer not to continue harming ourselves …
“In my opinion, better than you think. The data may be disheartening, but I have a lot of faith in our teachers; many do an incredible job, especially those who recommend the books they love, who transfer their passion, what you do too Giancarlo, who are a writer and a teacher. As for the question of our literature, I would like to say that I believe in an Apulian literature, that of these years has more luck, but it would not exist if it had not been for the twentieth century, from Vittorio Bodini onwards. For me it is a cultural and linguistic question, Puglia is a frontier land, it has a shape that makes it look like a bridge, that bridge that unites East to West, and it is no coincidence that they have passed through Puglia dozens of cultures and languages. Traces have remained, Greeks, Arabs, French, Germans, Orthodox Christians and Catholics, but Jewish, Balkan and Gypsy culture, and then traces of this mixture are also the dialects, we even have linguistic minorities of the Provencal language as in Celle and Faeto, or the griko. Puglia is a Mitteleurope of the Mediterranean, but we are often a little ashamed of this, looking for a “pure” identity, a belonging. Instead we are the least pure of all ».

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7 August 2022 | 17:30

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