My story as a writer meets the readers of the EU-Read&Art project with great pleasure.
After having graduated in Oriental Archaeology in Florence and having lived, worked and travelled in the Middle East, I return to my homeland full of inspirations: landscapes and faces of millenary fascination, stories that weave East and West from the most remote past to a complex present.
These are the inspirations I try to transfer to the European participants in this project and these are my novels…
Il figlio del mare (Pellegrini Editore, 2020)
Dawn on the Calabrian Ionian surprises Bianca on the beach. The little girl has fallen asleep a virgin to awaken, violated, in a surreal scenario. Was it a wave that laid the pearl of a new life in her lap? That child of the tide will be for everyone Jo, pronounced American-style by those who do not know the child’s real name, the same as the sea that seems to have generated it. It will be a journey back to Calabria, thirty years after that morning, that will reveal the secrets of a life spent far away, in oblivion. A journey into memory, through Italy and the pain of a child who became an adult too quickly. A plunge into the past, into the arms of a land that knows how to be both mother and stepmother; where life resists, calls out for new life and fights back, as tenacious as the brooms bent by the gale. The land of origins narrated as an archetype of itself, a “non-place”, a geographical and imaginative space. A story declined according to the framework of Greek tragedy, where the prose of the chapters interweaves the lyricism of the choral interventions.
Antar (Vertigo Editions, 2018)
Antar is a young Italian-Syrian whose personality vacillates between cultures that attract and repel him depending on the often dramatic events that mark his path. He bears the name of a famous warrior-poet from the pre-Islamic era, ʿAntara Ibn Shaddād, a sort of Ulysses of the Arab world whose destiny he identifies with in a mirror-like manner.
Syrian in Italy and Italian in Syria, he lives a perennial short-circuit of identity, which translates into a veritable ‘return journey’, a descent into hell in a Syria that is now dismembered, in whose fragments his own family history breaks down, intertwining with that of strong characters such as Father Paolo Dall’Oglio. A story that draws on the complexity of this historical moment, where the narrating self becomes the lens through which the image of the Syrian disaster is amplified and the suspended dimension of those who are unconscious bridges between cultures.
Sette paia di scarpe (Rai Eri, 2014)
The title, inspired by an ancient Persian fairy tale, suggests the young protagonist’s exterior and interior journey in search of truth. Aidha and her two younger brothers leave Beirut during the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese war for Syria, to take refuge in the village of their maternal grandparents, whom they do not know. In the deep northeast, the steppe where Arabs, Kurds and a few semi-nomadic tribes coexist, Aidha will come into contact with the rigid patriarchal traditions of a millenary culture, from which her mother had fled as a teenager. Digging into her family past as archaeologists dig into the tell, the mysterious hill that dominates the village, the girl will discover an important secret, which will make her reflect on the fragile balances that govern the daily life of small rural communities and the disenchantment of their ruthless living.
Eliana Iorfida – writer, JUMP Team