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Friday, 23 October 2009

Lello GuradoSignè Lello Gurrado

Interviewed by Giuseppina La Ciura


Translated by Karen Fronduti

A recent player on the scene of the Italian thriller, Lello Gurrado, a writer of considerable originality and stylistic elegance, has graciously accepted to answer a few of our questions.


-  At the risk of appearing banal, my first question – and I know that it corresponds to the secret wishes of your ever-increasing readership – would be:  Who is the mysterious Mr. Gurrado?  (and at this point, I presume to offer my own suggestion: “He’s Sicilian . . . . ” ) .


Gurrado-  No, not Sicilian, but Apulian.  I was born in Bari, but when only seven moved to Milan where I’ve carried out my entire career.  I’m 66 and have been a professional journalist since the age of 22 (that may be something of a record -- 22 years and 2 months to be exact). I’ve acted as Editor, Special Envoy, Editor in Chief, and Managing Director of the most important  Italian publishing houses (Rizzoli, Mondadori, Corriere della Sera, Rusconi . . . . ).  I’ve covered sports, news, politics, disasters, and social affairs. I’ve done interviews with ordinary people and with extraordinary public persona such as Enzo Ferrari, Sandro Pertini, Chris Barnard . . . . In other words, before I began writing books, I was a contented newspaperman.


-  After writing many “committed” books, in 2006 with “Nomination” (ed. Fanucci) you took on the ambiguous and insidious world of noir, with a hardboiled book based on infernal rhythm, plot, and characters, in the Joe R. Landsdale genre.  What led you to this precipitous change? Boredom, a taste for challenge, your reaction to a certain type of television? Or . . . .  a suggestion from your dog, Artù?


Gurrado- My dog Artù, my great and irreplaceable friend, was very helpful during the writing phase, but the idea came to me above all as a reaction against a certain kind of television. I harboured then and still do a sense of authentic disgust for Big Brother, Celebrity Survivor and similar programs.


-  “Nomination” is a great tribute to dame Agatha (“Ten Little Indians”) and to Stevenson. And to who knows how many others.  Would you like to mention some of them?


Gurrado-  Agatha of course is unreachable, not to mention Stevenson, but to be honest, in writing “Nomination” I wasn’t intending to pay tribute to anyone. On the contrary, I was trying to write a novel that would be different from all the others.


-  Your description of American society is terrifying, desperate. Do you believe that our society is less violent, cruel and television-based?


Gurrado-  In the globalized world we are living in today, everything seems essentially the same to me, including the violence and the desperation. Europe is no different from America.


-  After having astounded your readers with “Nomination” (read it and you won’t regret it) you astonish them yet again with “Bookshop Mystery” (“Assassinio in Libreria” Marcos y Marcos), one of the most original thrillers of recent years. Why this change of genre?



Gurrado-  In this case, it would be pertinent to look for a tribute to Agatha Christie. I was trying for a thriller that would be as refined as possible, without gratuitous violence, sharp and ironic. A return to intelligent investigations, à la Poirot let’s say, or à la Sherlock Holmes, or Nero Wolfe . . . .


-  It’s clear that you know the victim well, as well as the writers who are habitués of the premises in Via Peschiera, the world of the Sherlockiana bookstore with all its particular observances. Why precisely Tecla Dozio, the owner of the shop, is chosen by you to be killed?


Gurrado-  I wanted to extend her life. Tecla is a dear friend of mine and an exquisite person.


-  At a certain moment of the party, attended by the most famous Italian mystery writers, arrives a merry train of ten famous foreign authors: Jeffery Deaver, Michael Connelly, Fred Vargas, Joe R. Lansdale, Paco Taibo II, Robert Crais, Henning Mankell, Anne Perry, Ruth Rendell and Elizabeth George.  Why them and not others?


Gurrado-  “Assassinio in Libreria” is a novel built around real characters, in real places in a real city. So these ten foreign writers also reflect reality: all ten, in fact, were frequent visitors at the Sherlockiana. That’s why I chose them and not others – another choice “pro veritate”.


-  Since your book is an entertainment, I won’t go into certain unclear points (for example where the unlikely crime weapon comes from) and I’ll ask you this instead: for books, booklets, paper-backs and tomes, can one kill and die?


 Gurrado-  As the old folks used to say, the tongue kills more often than the sword.  I guess I’m just getting old myself, because I believe that’s true. Books and booklets etc. can kill.  But they can also save.


-  Can you tell me if your next book will be . . . . a thriller?


Gurrado-  It’s coming out next Spring.  It will be a mystery story, cerebral and non-violent -- an intelligent challenge for my readers.


And here we leave our author in his studio with his “great and irreplaceable friend” Artù, as we begin our wait for a new and exciting thriller signé Lello Gurrado.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 26 January 2010 )
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