Monday, November 29

On my radar: the highlights of Roberto Saviano’s culture | Culture

ROberto Saviano is an Italian author best known for his 2006 book, Gomorrah, a limitless exhibition of organized crime in Italy. Born in Naples in 1979, Saviano studied philosophy and began as a journalist in 2002. After the publication of Gomorrah, which was turned into a film and later into a television series, received death threats from the Comorra criminal organization and was placed under police protection; still constantly moving to avoid detection. Saviano’s other books include ZeroZeroZero, about the cocaine trade, and the novel Wild kiss, which is now available in paperback, published by Pan Macmillan.

1. Music

From Mozart Don giovanni

Mozart: ‘A sensual delight’. Photograph: Stock Montage / Getty

Music accompanies every moment of my life. A life that, since I have lived in custody, has become lonely. The long journeys in armored vehicles, the hours in the army barracks where I have been housed for the past few years; time spent writing, even reading and studying: everything has a soundtrack, Mozart Don giovanni. I listen to him constantly, that moment when the Commander orders Don Giovanni: “Repent villain! Repent, you rogue! “And Don Giovanni responds:” No, no, I don’t regret it. Get away from me! ” So there I feel like Don Giovanni. “My heart, my chest is still, I am not afraid …” Listening to Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte’s libretto is a sensual delight.

2. Movie

I lost my body (dir. Jérémy Clapin)

'I feel that the protagonist lives like me': I lost my body.
‘I feel that the protagonist lives like me’: I lost my body. Photograph: AP

It is a grim animated film. The protagonist Naoufel’s hand, who has lost, spends the whole movie trying to reconnect with his body, but it is cut, cut. When you lose a fundamental part of yourself, you cannot expect it to return to its place sooner or later; nothing is fixed, you have to move on. And the memory is excruciatingly painful. It is not true to say that suffering improves you, because it does not feed you or allow you to improve your life. I feel that the protagonist lives like me, like all of us who continue to develop new strategies to be in the world when we have lost parts of ourselves.

3. Place


The Guadalquivir river in Córdoba, Andalusia.
The Guadalquivir river in Córdoba, Andalusia. Photograph: Sean Pavone / Alamy

My ancestors fled Cordoba in 1492, so maybe I always want to be in Andalusia. It’s my place, the only place I’ve been happy recently. They also gave me the freedom of Seville a while ago. I wish someone would give me the opportunity to go live there for 10 years, 20 even, with the sole intention of forgetting myself. In Seville, a few years ago, I tested my ability to reinvent a life elsewhere. I wore a curly black wig, to look like Maradona maybe, and some big dark glasses. I walked for hours without being recognized. But I wasn’t me, and that couldn’t be my freedom.

4. Food

Amalfi lemons

'Lemons are the food of happiness': Amalfi lemons.
‘Lemons are the food of happiness’: Amalfi lemons. Photograph: Tim Hill / Alamy

A few days ago I had some spaghetti with lemon. Yes, that’s right, spaghetti with Amalfi lemons; there is nothing that combines grains and fruits in that way. If you are ever lucky enough to go to the Amalfi Coast, eat pasta with lemon. Lemons are the food of happiness, and you can (must!) Eat Amalfi lemons whole. Pulp and rind, juice and aroma, it all reminds me that I come from southern Italy, that I belong to a land that is both hell and heaven, which has extremely powerful criminal organizations, the antibodies to oppose them and the restorative balm to when you take a breath to prepare for a new battle.

5. Hobby


'The intoxicating thrill of playing soccer': Subbuteo.
‘The intoxicating thrill of playing soccer’: Subbuteo. Photograph: Radharc Images / Alamy

The pleasure of playing Subbuteo: we, the generation born in the late 70s, are the only ones who could have enjoyed it. After that, it was just computers and screens. Those tiny men who move pushed by the index finger, those games conceived and built on a green cloth, make the Subbuteo game the closest thing there is to battles with toy soldiers. But it wasn’t a war, it was the intoxicating thrill of playing soccer, of having a field in your room. If you’ve never played Subbuteo, you can’t know the beauty of having a stadium and two soccer teams under your own bed.

6. Books

Luke Harding’s Shadow State; Kleptopia by Tom Burgit is

Shadow State by Luke Harding.
Shadow State by Luke Harding. Photograph: HarperCollins / Harper Collins

I have many books right here in front of me, I am looking at them while trying to choose the one that I feel has changed my life more than the others. In fact, there are two of them: Shadow state: murder, chaos and Russia Remaking the west by Luke Harding and Kleptopia: how dirty money is taking over the world by Tom Burgis. Two outstanding writers, caught in the beating heart of political and criminal power, sinking their teeth and never letting go. The books that I love are those that do not make you feel safe, that are not comfortable, that when you finish them you want to knock down the door of your house, run into the street and shout: everything has to change. Let this shitty world come to an end and something different finally begin!

Translated by Shaun Whiteside

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