Friday, July 12, 2013

GIANRICO CAROFIGLIO: The Silence of the Wave

Today I welcome Italian thriller writer Gianrico Carofiglio. Gianrico Carofiglio was born in 1961 in Bari where for many years he has worked as an anti-Mafia prosecutor. From 2008 to 2013, he served as senator of Italy’s Democratic Party. He is best known as the author of the award-winning Guido Guerrieri crime novels that include Involuntary Witness, A Walk in the Dark, Reasonable Doubts and Temporary Perfections. The Silence of the Wave (Rizzoli Ex Libris) will be published in September in the U.S. Translated by Howard Curtis. Carofiglio has also written a stand-alone, The Past is a Foreign Country.

Gianrico Carofiglio: 
The Silence of the Wave

I’ve have always been fascinated by psycho-therapy and its different approaches – about five hundred, as far as I know. For a long time I thought about writing a story inspired by the dialogues between a psychiatrist and his patient, so when I set about to writing The Silence of the Wave, I wanted to feature a psychiatrist who specializes in word therapy.

To explain the title I will refer first to the main character in the novel, Roberto, a man whose life has been devastated and who tries to achieve a true rebirth. He is visiting the doctor twice a week, and in these sessions silence is all around them - between them at times, but also in Roberto’s soul and in the city the novel is set in, Rome. He crosses the streets of Rome everyday in endless and lonely walks, and the city acts as the prefect mirror of his mood. The psychiatrist Roberto sees twice a week tries to explain his mental disorder and existential discomfort by using the metaphor of the wave. Sometimes, he says, life is like ending up underwater. The important rule is to be reassured that, sooner or later, the wave will pass and we will come out of it. Life has a swinging rhythm. One should be able to float, to take a breath at the right moment; if you panic you will easily drown. Roberto perfectly understands this reference as he used to surf with his father when he was a young boy. He knows that to be a good surfer, you need to be in tune with the motion and the energy of the wave. It demands that you become a part of its force, so that you can conquer it. It is a pursuit that is solitary in nature, but reveals much about character; it is not enough to be a wave watcher. There is a moment when you are under the weight of the water, gliding along and in balance, and then you fall off the surfboard. A good surfer is compelled to get back up on the surfboard to catch another wave, but no two waves are alike.

On a personal note, I am attracted to surfing, even tough I have never tried to stand on a surfboard or catch a wave. I once tried bodysurfing in the ocean and found it to be very exciting, exhilarating. My passion for surfing comes from movies, namely Big Wednesday, a cult favorite, and Point Break, ironically, a story about an FBI undercover agent, like Roberto, starring Keanu Reeves. Surfing represents to me the myth of eternal adolescence. And here is how I come to my other character, Giacomo. The original idea was to tell the story of a melancholy boy who lives in his dreams rather than in the reality. Then I decided to connect this story to Roberto’s pain: the challenge was to put together two stories that were in no way related to each other.

Giacomo and Roberto, their loneliness and redemption, connect their stories and Rome serves as the perfect backdrop; is there a better city than Rome to walk through and get lost in? My novels are usually set in Bari but recently I’ve been spending more of my time in Rome, so I felt ready to write about it. The Silence of the Wave is about awareness, about finally opening your eyes. And making it in the most beautiful city in the world is such a great opportunity: Roberto lives surrounded by incredible wonders, and he doesn’t recognize them. He will discover them along with the story.

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