Friday, November 17, 2006

Rome, city of crime

It's a Crime! (or a mystery...) posts a notice of this lively interview with the Roman writer Massimo Mongai. The discussion includes entertaining thoughts on, among other subjects, why Rome is a good place to write a crime novel ("it has double the number of embassies of any other city") and the city's neighborhoods ("Trastevere, which is full of freaks, American tourists and Italian snobs").

Mongai won a award for his science fiction novel Memorie di un cuoco d'astronave (Memoirs of a Spaceship Cook), according to the article. He has just published a crime novel, La memoria di Ras Tafari Diredawa, and he has this to say about his fellow citizens: "And remember, in Italy dramatic situations are always dramatic but never serious." With an attitude like that, you know this guy will be fun to read, even more so when I can read him. His work has yet to be translated into English.

© Peter Rozovsky 2006

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11 Comments:

Anonymous andrea said...

Incredibile! Lo conosci! Mongai è un autore di culto in Italia ed è nato nel mio stesso quartiere di Roma: Garbatella. Io ancora non ho letto niente di lui ma so che è molto stimato. Gli farò sapere - attraverso miei amici - del tuo post.

November 17, 2006  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I managed "Mongai e un autore di culto in Italia" and "nato nel mio stesso quartiere di Roma" but it sounds as if we English are missing out. Translations please.

Norm [failed Latin O level 1959]

November 17, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

I never took O levels, so I'll sally bravely forth. Andrea writes:

Incredible! I know him! Mongai is a cult author in Italy and was born in my quarter of Rome: Garbatella. I also have read nothing by him, but I know he is very highly thought of. I'll let him know -- through my friends -- of your post.

Maybe we can get the guy translated into English. Did you read the interview with him? I like his approach to things, and I like his take on Rome. I smiled when he talked about Rome seeming a quiet, calm town. One of the joys of my time in Rome was hearing a Roman sigh about the hectic pace of the city, and contrasting his attitude with that of a German friend living in Rome who found the city a little slow.

November 17, 2006  
Anonymous crimeficreader said...

Perhaps this could be one for translation and publication with Bitter Lemon Press in the UK?
(And thanks for the link Peter.)

November 17, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

You could be right. Mongai could be one of those writers ripe for publication by Bitter Lemon in the UK -- and nine months later in the U.S. And thanks to you for letting me know about Mongai. I sent Andrea (the guy who posted at the top of this list) a link to your site. His books blog is at http://www.andreafannini.it/blog/category/libri/

November 17, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

Andrea:

Che piccolo mondo! (Forse quest'espressione e sciocchezza in italiano, ma non in inglese!)

Mongai dice nell'intervista che Roma sembra essere una citta tranquilla dove si puo vivere una dolce vita. Io mi ricordo di un romano chi si è lamentato l'esatto contrario: che Roma era agitato, troppo frenetico, etc.!
============

Small world! (This expression may be nonsense in Italian, but not in English!)

Mongai says in the interview that Rome seems like a tranquil city, where one can live a pleasant life. I remember a Roman who complained of the exact opposite: that Rome was agitated, too frenetic, etc.

November 17, 2006  
Anonymous andrea said...

Sorry, I know reading and understanding a little bit English but I never learned it. I'm completely unable to write it (in fact it's not me who's writing these two simple sentences).
Roma è una città complessa. E' sicuramente caotica e frenetica ma esistono anche zone e quartieri - come Garbatella - ancora tranquilli e umani. Mongai forse si riferiva a queste parti di Roma.

November 17, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

Forse avendo parlato Mongai con un poco d'umorismo e ironia!

Dov'e Garbatella? Ho habitato in un quartiere tranquillo nel Aventino.

November 17, 2006  
Anonymous andrea said...

Sicuramente è così. Garbatella, comunque, si trova vicino l'Aventino. Vicino la basilica di San Paolo. E' un quartiere popolare, fatto di casette di due e tre piani, costruito tra il 1920 e il 1930. Ti consiglio di vedere il film di Nanni Moretti, "Caro Diario".

November 17, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

Grazie della tua raccomandazione. Io dovro fare una lista dei films che tu mi hai raccomandato.

November 17, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

Andrea's last comment discussed his neighborhood, Garbatella, which is also Massimo Mongai's. It's a popular quarter, Andrea says, of small two- and three-story houses, built between 1920 and 1930.

That humble description makes me immediately interested in Mongai's settings. I suspect that most people thinking of Rome will think of the classical monuments, the Baroque churches, the grand streets laid out by Renaissance popes, or maybe the medieval streets of Trastevere. The possibility that an author may use a very different setting, a place that might make me look at Rome in a new way -- well, that's part of the pleasure of reading international crime fiction.

Uriah: Andrea also recommended a movie, Caro Diario. He's recommended other movies, and I think his Web site has a section on films, if you want to take a look.

November 17, 2006  

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