The Dot Circle 2017
The DOT Circle 2017
The second edition of the literary award curated by The Fashionable Lampoon.
Five novels in competition starting from Thursday 20th of April. The winner will be announced on 4th of May.
The Books. Through The DOT Circle project, Lampoon pursues a very specific type of literature: we could call it Doc Fiction or New Journalism – when literature meets reality. Below are the titles of the 5 books in competition:
1 Storie dal mondo nuovo (Stories from the new world) by Daniele Rielli, Adelphi
2 Trentacinque secondi ancora (Thirty-five more seconds) by Lorenzo Iervolino, 66thand2nd
3 Se hai sofferto puoi capire (If you have suffered, you can understand) by Giovanni F. and Francesco Casolo, Chiarelettere
4 Vivere (Living) by Ugo Bertotti, Fandango
5 Io sono con te. Storia di Brigitte. (I’m with you. The Story of Brigitte) by Melania G. Mazzucco, Einaudi
The Jury. Each member of the jury panel is required to express his/her preference by 3rd of May 2017. Voting is open also to readers who can vote online once they have registered and provided identification information.
Maria Lusia Agnese
Gian Paolo Barbieri
Pier Giorgio Bellocchio
Francesco Bianconi, Baustelle
Diamara Parodi Delfino
Gian Paolo Serino
The award ceremony. It will take place on 4th of May 2017 in Milan during a seated gala dinner.
Tiffany & Co. Partner of the initiative is the jeweler house with the greatest literary legacy in history, dating back to that time when Truman Capote sent Holly Golightly for breakfast in front of the windows of the store on Fifth Avenue. Tiffany & Co. is now a world power in terms of image and aesthetics and has a history of supporting cultural initiatives and worthy causes that display modernity, dynamism and energy.
Tiffany & Co. Managing Director Italy and Spain
Editor in Chief The Fashionable Lampoon
Text Claudia Bellante
Stories from a new world by Daniele Rielli
Storie da mondo nuovo is a collection of creative nonfiction works that Daniele Rielli had published between 2014 and 2016 in several Italian publications such as Il Venerdì di Repubblica and Internazionale, combined with two unpublished new works.
“The common thread running through these works – commented Rielli – is the exploration of two complementary aspects of our times: the cohabitation of islands characterized by a high level of technological innovation and others where archaic, pre-scientific beliefs still dominate.” Antipodal worlds that are forced to co-exist for a long time as the ambivalence depicted by Rielli is ingrained in humankind, which on the one hand pushes towards discoveries and evolution and, on the other, seeks refuge in dogmatic certainties.
Rielli’s new world, which brings to mind Aldous Huxley’s most acclaimed novel in which the English writer anticipated such themes such as the revolution in reproductive technologies, eugenics and mind control, is inhabited, among others, by start-up promoters, online poker players, wealthy Indians getting married in Salento and writers. All characters that the author has approached and proceeds to describe only after a period of meticulous research. “They ought to be things [subjects and characters] which I’m familiar with in broad terms but I’d love to know more in depth; I’m especially interested in small realities with their symbolism, their power dynamics and their specific languages”. In order to immerse yourself into a specific scenario “what matters the most is to truly listen to people and study the relevant documentation with an open mind; the best way to do a bad job is getting to a place for the sake of confirming a theory that you had formulated even before setting off for the journey”. When it comes to reporting his findings, Rielli works on the pace and the clarity of his writing “I try to use a language that is free from any journalistic clichés, that is capable of adjusting to the narration subject without any hyper-simplification or pomposity, which are in fact two sides of the same coin. When put it like that it may sound simple, but that is not always the case. Anyway, personally, the main goal is to tell a story effectively without tormenting the reader unnecessarily. If the person reading my book wonders, among the many questions he/she might have, how the story is going to end, then I’m very happy.”
Rielli’s first person narrator is always present but, as he himself underlines “it is relevant in the context of the story we are exploring”, which means that what he feels and what happens to him is directly linked to the events.
His stories have often a beginning but rarely an ending. The author chooses to tell only a part, a fragment, an act, until a conclusion becomes necessary. This whilst being fully aware, though, that that ending is an ellipsis and not a full stop because “you never leave a story for good: if new developments occur – and that is often the case – you can always reopen the bundle and resume the work”.
Text Claudia Bellante
Trentacinque secondi ancora, Lorenzo Iervolino
Published by 66tha2nd
Tommie Smith and John Carlos were not lifelong friends, quite the contrary. One hailed from the fields in California, the other from the streets of Harlem. One was quiet and studious, the other was reckless. Nevertheless, that picture joined them together, forever, their raised fists clad in a black glove, challenging self-righteous, racist America from the podium of the Olympic Games in Mexico City, on October 16, 1968. That image turned them into the symbol of a battle that is still underway and that cyclically claims more victims. Lorenzo Iervolino cut out that picture from newspapers, tore it from book covers, put in his pocket and embarked on a journey to tell the stories of the people behind that shot. «Trentacinque secondi ancora, thirty-five more seconds, the time needed to get off the podium and reach the locker rooms – stems from my being obsessed with a story even before knowing if I was able to tell it». Nine months went by before the author first put pen to paper, nine months dedicated to study and research. «I was a guest at the archives of San Jose State University where Tommie and John first met, and then travelled to the places that meant something to them». Iervolino’s first idea was to write a novel, but what came out is a hybrid text in which the dialogues and situations are invented, always respecting the facts. «Using one’s own voice is something that connects you with reality, yet I consider myself a writer, not a journalist. I was never concerned with how appealing the story would be for the readers, because its remoteness, in time and space, is relative: that shot has never stopped speaking».
«The story of Tommie and John centers around a failed integration within a country that for decades has reserved for African-American athletes a separate citizenship, without enabling them to enjoy the wealth generated by their wins». Cheered on track and on the podium, but marginalized in the classroom, in bars and student dorms. Forced to be grateful to an conceited country, a country that believed they had just conceded them to win, to get that medal, and that has not forgiven that glorious, challenging gesture: heads bowed down, in memory of the too many yes sir uttered, and fists that tears the sky, crying their dignity.
«Telling a story also means choosing what not to tell» Iervolino explains, and this is why there is no mention in the book of his encounter with Tommie and John: «It would have shifted the focus on me, on that moment only, so full of expectations, while my intention was to give the two leading characters a timeless credibility, as if they were a baton to pass on to someone else, today and tomorrow».
Before Trentacinque secondi ancora Iervolino wrote Un giorno triste così felice, the story of Socrates, a ground-breaking football player in 1980s Brazil. «I have no intention of fencing myself in sports storytelling, but this way I feel I can address a wider readership, besides the so-called ‘big readers’ or insiders. I reach the young, those who love sports and believe they sum up humanity and politics. I believe that everyone is interested in courage and solidarity».
Text Marta Abbà
Se hai sofferto puoi capire by Giovanni F. and Francesco Casolo
Published by ChiareLettere
«It’s a little ‘coming-of-age’’ novel, the ordinary story of a kid growing up. He could have been shy, he could have been overweight, he’s HIV-positive», but this still is a ‘coming-of-age’ novel.
Francesco Casolo, the editor and co-author of Se hai sofferto puoi capire (if you suffered you will understand) is eager to underline this idea, even before telling us how he came up with the idea for the book, and how he met Giovanni F., the way the novel’s very young main character likes to call himself, inspired by Italian judge Giovanni Falcone.
It all started with a blog and from the therapist team of the Pediatric Infectivology ward of the Sacco hospital in Milan, aiming to «give children the chance to tell about their life and feelings». The book is meant as «a way to give them an identity, without unveiling their names, voicing their frustration and family issues connected to HIV and their sadness in seeing friends and partners run away» Casolo explains.
«Someone told me that ‘warrior’ Giovanni, 12, was the most fitting for his strong personality, for being a fighter and because he had just learnt he was HIV-positive and knew better how does it feel and how to deal with the situation, and what kind of future he could expect ». Casolo followed live this very moment in Giovanni’s life and was able to tell about it ‘up-close’, without the flourishes that memories sometimes provide. There is nothing blurred in Giovanni F. words, quite the contrary, we read his jokes, his odd thoughts, it’s the voice of a 12-year-old, unfiltered and uncensored.
Other stories unravel around him, the stories of adults, too, who keep frequenting the hospital because they lost their parents at an early age and grew up there. Casolo intertwines their stories with Giovanni’s, showing there are many different reasons why one is born, or becomes, HIV-positive, yet the patients all share the same sensations, all ‘feel wrong, rotten’.
Frequenting for various months the Sacco Hospital «I had this absurd feeling they saw me almost as their rescuer: they are fed up with hiding, and they know that books like this may help inform people appropriately about the progress made so far in treating HIV, and to make them understand that an HIV-positive patient is not necessarily destined to a life of pain and exclusion».
«Working on the book I found many analogies with homosexuality, with the way it was perceived about a decade ago. Things are beginning to change, we need someone willing to stand up, to show us that they can lead a normal life. It still happens that HIV-positive individuals are excluded from track and field teams or lose their job».
Things will change, Casolo is confident about it , and one can feel it in his book, when he writes about Giovanni F., «a child with a little moustache who thinks like a grown-up, although he’s not one yet».
Text Claudia Bellante
Vivere by Ugo Bertotti
Published by Coconino Press – Fandango
Selma arrives in Italy on a boat, she has left Syria, she traveled across Egypt and she is only a few steps away from a new life. Her foot fails her, she falls, butts her head during that endless journey at sea. She is admitted to hospital in Palermo where a doctor listens to her, comforts her and experiences with her the feelings of someone who has no home to go back to, a land she can call her own. Selma dies. Her family, at a time of extreme grievance, when it would have been acceptable and understandable to withdraw into themselves and vent all their rage, makes an extremely compassionate gesture and decide to donate the organs of that woman, mother and spouse. This way Selma donates a new life to Don Vito – a catholic priest, how ironic – to Mimmo – a former soldier, the wheel of fortune stroke also here- and to Maria, also a mother, a spouse, a woman.
Ugo Bertotti narrates these intertwining stories, after listening to them carefully, with a graphic novel created in collaboration with Palermo’s ISMETT (Istituto mediterraneo per i trapianti e terapie ad alta specializzazione), a highly specialized institute for transplants and therapy, with the strong support of doctor Bruno Gridelli. “Our first idea was an animated film based on organ donation” but then the project changed. “It was a lengthy project, we worked for two years. For the first three or four months we arranged meetings and heard stories to grasp their experiences with discretion” says Bertotti, who established a friendship with Arab doctor Hasan Hawad that is still solid today, they even traveled to Malta together to visit Selma’s brother and the woman’s grave.
“The hardest thing for a cartoonist like me is to be able to give the right important to the story, using a language that is intrinsically liberating, excessive, in-your-face, in which the sign is more important than content and creates a harsh contrast with complex ideas” Bertotti explains “Vivere provides an intuitive, rapid outline, rather than an in-depth analysis. An analytical narration risked being boring. Color seemed too invasive, while black and white helped me focus closely on the details without indulging on decorative elements,” and this way Bertotti made us see the invisible.
“I took some freedom in the storyline, in the dialogues for instance, but when Selma’s relatives read them, they said: I never told you this, but that’s what happened. It was such a good feeling, it meant I had truly understood them”.
“Dealing with this kind of stories is like stepping inside a new dimension, and comics turn into an experimental research to reach a compromise in terms of synthesis, conciseness, and completeness of the short sentences uttered without sounding aloof. But these few words we use must be accurate, solid. Stories like this are like film frames, emotional explosions, it’s like single breaths trying to depict fragments of life and such fragments have to encompass an individual’s entire existence.”
“When we started out I had strong doubts, I was concerned with the medical aspect only. I would go to the hospital often, my intention was to enhance that aspect, but then I distanced myself from it, the meaning of the project was something else: telling the story of lives that share the same civil, intelligent, generous gesture. Selma’s story has a very strong symbolic meaning. It’s as if single identities had been mixed and merged together.” Giving life, without doubt, to improved human beings.
Text Claudia Bellante & Marta Abbà
Io sono con te. Storia di Brigitte, by Melania Mazzucco
Published by Einaudi
I still don’t know if I will ever be able to tell her story. But I know that, if I will, that’s because she will be just herself, with me, and the other way around. Then I will be able to be her, too, I will find the right words. This is the aim of Melania Mazzucco, which she makes clear from the very first pages of her latest book, Io sono con te. Storia di Brigitte: encountering someone and getting to know them so well we can read their thoughts, feel their same feelings under our skin, go along their same path, wear their clothes. In Brigitte’s case, the clothes she’s wearing when she arrives in Rome, at the Termini railway station, in January 2013, are not enough to protect her from the icy cold. The temperature that day is five degrees Celsius in Rome, a city we always imagine as sun-drenched, illuminated by an eternal time that suspends us, makes us immortal. This is s privilege reserved to others, not to her, who fled from Congo, after she was tortured for months by the military because she cured the government’s enemies. Brigitte Zebé, 40, a widow and mother of four, was a nurse back in Congo and supervised two clinics. Now she has nothing left. Just a pair of dark blue jeans and a black jacket. Not enough to protect from the cold winter.
“To understand who Brigitte is – Mazzucco says – you need to read on, because her story begins when she is literally a castaway in Rome. She is a black woman in tattered clothes, starving, sleeping rough, she doesn’t know why she’s there, therefore she is a ‘nobody’.”
Melania meets her and decides to tell her story. Using a blunt style, that never indulges in pietism. She uses clear-cut words that enable the reader to live the situations, and not just imagine them. When Brigitte eats out of garbage bins, we taste and feel the same disgust. She doesn’t add tragedy to tragedy, because there’s no need for that, and never indulges in clichés, not even when she portrays the various humanity that woman meets, the people that help her, avoid her, ignore her. There are no good or bad people here, there’s us, with our sudden sympathy and our bad moments, and that’s because, while Brigitte is the leading character and our focus is on her, she’s not the only one who’s having issues. Io sono con te is an intense, event-packed book that tells a whole life in a few pages, and makes us see that behind each single migrant, asylum-seeker, refugee (categories we all use, generalizing) there is a story that would deserve to be told in a book. Mazzucco tells about Brigitte because it’s Brigitte she has met. The author gradually gets closer to her, their voices merge in a narration that becomes continuous. Without any hugs, without any ostentatious tenderness that may sound fake. Mazzucco remains faithful to her goal, that is, telling a story, she doesn’t try to direct the reader but lets them free to form their own opinion, on Brigitte, on the foreigners that arrive in Italy every day, on the racism that surrounds them. Because it is up to us, only to us, to decide what to do when the ghost of a man or a woman appears before our eyes, a castaway in any of our cold cities.
Video Directed by @CriSeresini – Diana Film Sudio, Music Here Comes The Wave by Silence is Sexy
Thanks to Milano Porta Nuova CoimaSGR PNSC Vivi Porta Nuova and ACTLAB, Dipartimento ABC, Politecnico di Milano