Jewish Wisdom for Goys & Gers

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Introduction to Francesco Gungui: the King of Italian Fantasy

There are moments when you realize that you are trapped. Where you look around and finally understand the meaning of things. You cannot always understand them, only in those moments. When something happens. When you have to say “goodbye” to a person. When you have to accept being powerless in the face of something that you cannot control: life is so hard. It is so cruel. There are times when you have to make a choice, go ahead, and let yourself go alone or for someone else.

Can love be the key to everything? I think so. Because love makes fear vanish. Yeah, the fear to choose, to act. The one who is afraid is inevitably overwhelmed by events; the one who has courage faces the reality of trying to change it. The meaning of all this is described in the latest novels of Francesco Gungui. As I sit here in front of my computer, waiting to interview him, I read in silence one of the sentences on the cover of his book Inferno: “How far would you go to save someone you love?”

I get on webcam and now recognize the assurance in his eyes. Clean face, dark eyes hidden behind glasses with rectangular lenses, thin lips, and tousled hair. His approach is immediately spontaneous; his voice, calm.

In America you may not know that he is one of the great promises in the field of Italian literature and recently his book “Inferno” is in the top ten best-selling books. Although he is 33 years old, he published his first work at 23—and think about it, a book about cooking, going on to write about other issues like teenage love stories, evolving into a fantasy, dehumanizing trilogy, which is sweeping Italy.

His writing is fluid, rich in detail but not overly detailed. His characters and his stories move through the unpredictable rhythm of his sixth sense: a high intuition. The images are described as the photos, as a film that distorts, almost becoming real and emotionally tangible. Details that may seem trivial embellish the scene.

Francesco plays with the lights that affect the eye color of the protagonists, the reflections of the hair, and the shades of shadows. He has a deep mind that looks at the world under one eye being positive, however, aware of its dark side. He describes pain. In his book “Inferno” he speaks of love, the real one and a not sickly sweet one, the sacrifice of a boy who ends up in a real Hell to save the person he loves.

In “Purgatorio” instead he tells how important it is to the soul that it can be difficult to deal with themselves and confront difficulties. In “Paradiso” he makes the reader understand that we, all over the world and perhaps the universe itself, are but a small part of the infinite and that actions and decisions can be part of something larger and perhaps more important than life itself.

As we speak, Franceso approaches so peaceful and sociable, apparently at ease, but also very curious. He Googled me to know something about me, finding an interview with me a few ‘years ago where I said that I wrote, but I did not love reading. I officially apologize to him for the fool  that I was by stating publicly that I changed my mind, because now I desperately love reading and fortunately in life one can change. Despite everything he admonishes me and tells me that if I want to “vindicate” myself, I have to watch his first interviews. He is very nice and polite, and he immediately puts me at ease.

By Francesco Cilidonio

Stay tuned for Part II

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