Strega Prize, Giulia Caminito: “An honor to be among the finalists, films? It would be incredible”

“Winning the Witch? I don’t think” Giulia Caminito shields herself “but if not, I would dedicate the prize to Ilaria”. Born in Rome in 1988, with her ‘The water of the lake is never sweet’ published by Bompiani, the writer is among the five finalists of the Strega Prize, the most prestigious award in Italy, which on 8 July, in the frame of the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, will crown the winner. Ilaria, on the other hand, was a girl from Anguillara Sabazia, a town on Lake Bracciano, where Giulia grew up and where she set her third novel. For 10 years Ilaria was Giulia’s best friend, inspiring the traits of Iris, one of the characters in the book, which could soon become a movie. “It would be wonderful – explains Caminito to Andkronos -. I wonder if there will be this incredible opportunity, I can only say that something is moving.” Iris-Ilaria in the novel is the best friend of Gaia, the narrator and protagonist, who lives a difficult adolescence, in constant conflict with the mother’s expectations and the society of appearance. “Ilaria was very important to me – underlines the writer -. It is the first time that I am writing about her, for some it is just a cast of her person, but in the novel she is a character who has a very bright component and who manages to immediately conquer Gaia, the protagonist. She is intelligent, a fair girl, an important meeting that Gaia ruins with her jealousies “. It was the 2000s, Gaia, born in a poor environment in Rome, moved with her family to Anguillara Sabazia, where Caminito also grew up. “I arrived in the country when I was 4 – she remembers – I never felt like a stranger. When I was 13 I went on a bike with my friends and we ran in the square, then with the scooter we ran around the town, I have always worked at the lake but Anguillara has two ways of calling its citizens (‘anguillarini’ for the original inhabitants of the area and ‘ anguillaresi ‘, for those coming from outside, ed), and this difference, which has its pros and cons, I have experienced on my skin. “Like Gaia, Giulia too has often heard the question’ whose daughter are you ? ‘ But this does not mean that she has ever felt like a foreign body to the community. “I have always had the feeling of being part of it – emphasizes the writer – but also of having to justify every time why I was there and why I was part of that place”. The idea of ​​setting the novel in the town had been buzzing in her head for a while. “I wanted to write something that had the lake as a background, that had to do with my adolescence” remarks Giulia, who makes the characters move to a place where the ‘lake water, contrary to what is said and expected, is anything but sweet. “The definition of lake water does not correspond to a factual reality – he points out -. It is said that the water of the lake lake is sweet but not sugary. I wanted to talk about an indescribable taste that can be bitter, sometimes muddy, playing on this indefiniteness, also through the speeches of the protagonists, who are in search of their identity. “The lake” seems peaceful , melancholy – explains the writer – but m i liked it could also have an explosive component that concerns the life of the protagonist and situations that often arise in the provinces. It seemed interesting to me to talk about this dimension of the country. Anguillara is special, of the three countries bordering the lake it is the closest to Rome but also the one that lives the lake the most, a province that is also a periphery and has its own identity, which is in osmosis with the people who live there “. Woe to call it a coming-of-age novel.” I have defined it as a novel of non-training or malformation – the writer remarks – because we follow Gaia from childhood to adulthood but the Bildungsroman usually follows a path in the ascent of the character towards her improvement. In Gaia’s case, there is no improvement. “What strikes us are the female characters of the novel, apparently fragile but all endowed with great strength and stubbornness.” Antonia, Gaia’s mother, is also a woman of great wrist, which resists, dedicates herself to the subsistence of the family ”, highlights the writer. His daughter Gaia, on the other hand, “may seem calm and studious but in reality she is a hidden fire. I wanted it to be as layered as possible, to have lights and shadows. A character who struggles to understand who she is and what she wants, with a family different from mine, a smart and intelligent girl who, however, is unable to communicate with others in the best possible way “. Having reached the final at the Premio Strega is a success that Giulia has achieved piece by piece, ringing a series of prestigious awards over the years, such as Berto, Bagutta (First Opera section), Brancati (Youth section), Fiesole and the final at Campiello 2021. “The book is getting a lot of attention , I am very happy, I have already bought the dress for the final on Thursday “smiles the writer, who in the novel has managed to give a voice to the Millennials, the generation Y that struggles to find work and security.” I wanted to tell about some difficulties, frustrations and angry sensations that I felt after so many years of study and work – he concludes – that impression of never entering adult life, common to many boys of my age. But mine was also a way of telling me often during adolescence we ruin bonds for our paranoia and anxieties “. (by Federica Mochi)

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