twelve o’clock, March 30 2021 – 09:23

In the bookstore the novel about the mysterious detective: «Writing something new out of the genre? Maybe”

of Mirella Armiero

Sara is a champion, no doubt about it. She always manages to surprise her interlocutor, with the ability to decrypt the most imperceptible movement of those in front of her, to translate it into an infallible psychological analysis. And then this beautiful gray-haired lady has the gift of “invisibility”, in practice she appears and disappears in a ghostly way, accustomed as she is to long militancy in the secret services. But this time Sara surprises even her own creator, Maurizio de Giovanni, who in giving birth to the fourth chapter of the series, with the title The Eyes of Sara (Mondadori editions, now in bookstores) is particularly attached to her enigmatic character.

De Giovanni, will not Sara have undermined the beloved Commissioner Ricciardi in her heart?
«Well, of course Sara intrigues me, as does the atmosphere that is created in her novels. She is a character who is not there. Ricciardi is different, he is a normotic, he is like Batman, a wounded lonely hero, the bearer of a drama. In Bastardi the characters are collective, there is a polyphony. Mina is the protagonist of a comedy, which can be told according to clichés. Sara, on the other hand, is a contemporary character who also allows you to tell the past, the more I tell her the more she opens up new horizons for me ».

The story of the new novel intertwines the present with the recent past of the nineties and the events of Romania at the time. Why this choice?
«I studied that period for a while, Romania was the last to fall and you could imagine a group of young people abroad, in Italy, tied to a resistance, perhaps manipulated by others. Especially for Sara’s series the researches are particularly important, I would say a fundamental part of the work ».

Does Sara lose some of her armor in this chapter of the series? We discover her vulnerable, because she is struck in a very dear affection.
«Sara is a woman still alive. She is very blocked by her past, both sentimental and working, but she is alive and this is the common thread of the whole series of novels dedicated to her. She is a woman with a particular experience and above all she is not one who lies. For this she is alone: ​​she could neither tell the truth nor share her secrets ».

Maternity for both Sara and her daughter-in-law Viola is an unconventional feeling. A theme already mentioned in the Bastards.
«It is an acknowledgment of reality. Octavia, in Bastardi, lives her relationship with her autistic son like a prison. Viola feels the scruple of having wished to have an abortion. They are human feelings. Just as for Sara it was a natural choice to leave the man she no longer loved, even at the cost of leaving her son. These are all understandable behaviors, but often only the maternal instinct is told through clichés ».

This new novel has a complex construction and an unexpected ending. In your opinion, is there the possibility of entering some national prize final or is there a prejudice on literature, so to speak “of genre”?
«The prejudice is strong and therefore certain rewards are impossible for some of us to obtain. And it’s a shame: I don’t speak for myself naturally, I only tell stories, but there are authors like Piergiorgio Pulixi who reach considerable depths, through the excavation of the characters. What to say? Certainly the prizes are held, we keep the readers ».

Yet you are now being interviewed as a leading intellectual on a variety of topics, well beyond the fence of the genre.
“I don’t feel like an intellectual or a columnist at all. I am a popular storyteller and I have thoughts and opinions on some topics, on which I feel I can intervene, for example the city, football, the new generations. But I would never start talking about vaccines or anything else, for example. I’m not interested in being an all-rounder, but if I have to say something about Naples, that’s fine ».

Here, let’s talk about Naples and the role of the city in the collective imagination. The fictions based on his books have been very successful, but there have also been reductions from Eduardo, The brilliant friend, Un posto al sole, up to the recent Carosone. Why is Naples so successful?
“But wasn’t it always like this?” I see a great deal of continuity in this field. From Totò to the Neapolitan song, up to the new sound of Pino Daniele. And further back: Salvatore Di Giacomo, Matilde Serao … The fact is that Naples is a great capital and moreover it is cohesive: you can find the same mentality from Posillipo to Ponticelli. And so it is with the language, the values. There is a strong collective identity, what is missing – and we have said it many times – is the cultural industry, for example a large publishing house ».

Returning to Sara, he is the least Neapolitan character of all his …
“It is, but in its own way. Sara is secretive, reserved, more intimate than all my other characters. He lives in Vomero, a neighborhood with less identity than others ».

Will it become a fiction?
“The rights have been bought by Palomar but there is still nothing concrete”.

«Sara’s eyes» has a complex plot, a broad horizon. For the future, can we expect some surprises, outside of the series already started? Maybe a historical novel?
“Who knows, maybe.”

We close with a prediction on the future of Naples, today so tried by a pandemic and long-standing problems.
“I am an optimist. Beauty wins over everything and we are full of beauty. I believe that after the pandemic we will experience a period of rebirth similar to the 1960s boom. A lot of money will arrive and it will not be like after the earthquake, now there is more control, we ask for the bill of certain things, and they will not end up in the hands of the Camorra ».

What do you miss most of the “before”?
“A pizza on the seafront and a crowd bath among my readers.”

March 30, 2021 | 09:23

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