Carlotto Goes Historical
One of my favorite noir fiction writers, Massimo Carlotto, moves back a few hundred years for his new novel CRISTIANI DI ALLAH. Amara Lakhous at Reset DOC interviewed Carlotto (the whole thing was later translated by Helen Waghorn) about his latest project:
Why are you writing a novel on the Mediterranean renegades today?
recover a ‘deserted’ story, one which disappeared from collective
western memory for religious and political reasons. I see the
Mediterranean as a closed sea where one civilisation was born which
then divided into two cultures. Open identity is the tool for being
able to bring this knowledge to life and to develop discussion.
the 16th and 19th centuries, 300,000 European Christians converted to
Islam. Were they ‘religious’ or ‘political’ refugees?
were religious, some political, certainly all were ‘social’ refugees,
fleeing from an oppressive system which prohibited them from social
redemption. Islam represented a genuine possibility to change the way
in which they lived. One can state that it was convenient to become a
Muslim, while this did not apply to Christianity. In fact there were
very few conversions to Christianity.
Is it possible to use the Mediterranean’s past as a key to understanding our present day?
not only possible, it’s necessary. We westerners cultivate a distorted
vision of our history which leads us to perceive ‘the other’ with an
unprovoked suspicion. It’s not by chance that in recent years there has
been a rediscovery of the so-called rhetoric of [the Battle of]
Lepanto, which is referred to as a strategic victory which saved
Christian Europe from an Islamic invasion. Nothing could be more wrong,
and yet numerous essays have been published in the press which have
provided room for discussion.
I’ll echo the Literary Saloon’s wish: Europa Editions, bring out an English translation of this book ASAP.