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Veronica Raimo: “My style between comedy and tragedy”

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Veronica Raimo: “My style between comedy and tragedy”

«The Strega Giovani award really moved me. Also because, I confess, I have the same emotional and psychological maturity as the boys aged sixteen to eighteen who voted for me ». Holy words: Veronica Raimo really looks like a peer of the students who crowned her “Niente di vero” (Einaudi). The Roman writer – who also won the Witch Off of independent bookstores and literary magazines and then entered the shortlist of the prestigious Roman award – does not show her 44 years of age at all. But she has the nose of Pinocchio: it is called “Niente di vero” the novel that has fascinated the very last generations where, however, narratively, there is also a lot of truth. Starting with the deranged family where the protagonist – who suffers from chronic constipation (a psychosomatic disease from which her grandfather’s love heals her) – has experienced the various stages of growth and maturation (so to speak). The hypochondriac parent of her is authentic and absolutely true, a father who cultivates an obsession with having to defend his children from the outside world and from diseases. It is true or likely that the mother is able to reach her children by telephone at the end of the world and so is her infant prodigal brother, Christian, who is also a writer. An inventive and creative brother whose presence has always obscured her. But Veronica with her mischievous and witty angel face, took her revenge with great vivacity and a lot of humor, so much so that the story turns into a hilarious literary product.

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“Mine is a coming-of-age novel in reverse,” explains Veronica who was born in 1978, graduated in Literature, lived in Berlin working as a researcher at the Humboldt University and has translated into Italian authors such as Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Ray Bradbury and Octavia E. Butler. «My style alternates between various registers and passes from top to bottom, from comedy to tragedy. The profession of translator has taught me a lot: I reflect on the choice of single words, I force myself to severity and reasoning, and my narration sometimes moves in the footsteps of the authors I love most, such as Fitzgerald and Bradbury. Other times it is a catalog of brief flashes of happiness to which losses, traumas, dreams, mistakes are added ».

So it’s not a memoir?
«It is a discontinuous book in which I tell of my structural inadequacy in being in the world. I lived with my family and it was as if I was invisible. I was there but it was as if I wasn’t there. Everyone quarreled, loved each other, insulted each other, hugged and I was ignored. My brother and I went to the same school. I was three years younger than him. When it was my turn and I arrived, the teachers confided to me their pain for the absence of that genius Christian Raimo ».

Does your book escape a precise classification? Is that so?

“It is not an autobiography at all, nor is it a breaking latest news of my life. There are characters inspired by real people who also keep their names. I even asked them for permission to be able to sue them. There are many situations at times paradoxical and at times a little surreal. I avoid chronological order, but I seem to tell life as it is: an eternal flow of hilarious, dramatic and disconcerting episodes ».

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An invisible girl, an inadequate young woman. Her novel is a cry of pain that turns into comedy: but is it also the protest of a young feminist?
“Not at all, there are so many types of feminism and I don’t recognize myself in those women’s movements that favor the discourse on the condition of women and then forget the most disadvantaged, the poor, the marginalized and the class struggle”.

Does he want to denounce the limitations of the family in order to reform it from within, so to speak, or would he really want to renounce the institution?
«Even if with the weapon of sarcasm, I want to demolish, to obliterate the family. I want to replace it with the network of interpersonal relationships. I realized, for example, how important community life is during the period of the lockdown. I live in Pigneto, a Roman neighborhood where there is still a daily routine made up of exchanges and mutual solidarity. In the isolation caused by the pandemic, having these links helped me to survive ».

How would you define the most authentic message of your book?
“I personally don’t want children. I think friendships and people you choose can become your new family. I like to imagine that there is a kind of ‘alternative’ brotherhood, or sisterhood, among people. And that the offspring can be replaced by commonality. I am a woman who also fights for other women, but in a very individual and anomalous way ».

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