The Italian writer Paolo Giordano (Turin, 1982) achieved great success at the age of twenty-six with his literary debut, The solitude of prime numbers Strega Prize 2008. Giordano, who writes regularly for the daily Corriere della Sera has subsequently published other novels and the essay In times of contagion . In his last work, tasmania , the protagonist shares with the author name and other particularities. He is a PhD in Physics, is around forty years old and combines scientific activity with writing.
The narrator Paolo explains in the first person a period of personal and professional crisis. His relationship with Lorenza, the mother of a teenage son, is going through low hours. Joint parenthood does not come. In 2015 he decided to take a break and go, sent by the newspaper where he writes, to the climate change conference held in Paris. There he will meet Giulio, an old career friend, and meet Novelli, a prestigious professor, an expert in the study of clouds.
⁄ It reflects a current situation where our small adversities coexist with global problems
He will return to Rome with the motivation to tackle a job on the atomic bomb. This will involve reviewing the existing bibliography and going back to the devastating testimonies of some survivors. “The end of the human species was a new pastime”, he points out, which leads him to wonder how he, as a scientist, would have faced this project knowing the consequences it would cause.
The most interesting part of the book is found in these pages. They work as a chronicle of high human interest with a force that is not achieved in other moments of the story, including the friendship with the young priest Karol, the fate of his student Christian or the disconcerting episode with Lorenza and a Nordic couple on the island. from Guadalupe. As he points out at the beginning of the text, attention to some superior tragedy serves to “dilute our personal suffering.”
Giordano’s novel presents a scenario of generalized crisis –that of the protagonist and also that of Giulio, the student, Karol or Novelli– in a Europe that sees its placidity altered by the attacks that have been taking place in recent years in Paris, London, Manchester or Barcelona… The world is reeling. The pandemic also appears in the final bars.
This is a novel where the leading men are related intermittently. The book collects the functioning of many male friendships with the professional issue always involved, including betrayals, it is the framework that gives rise to greater confidence. The women in the story, on the other hand, are beings with greater control (both Lorenza and Curzia, a freelance journalist). They act resolutely and this baffles the protagonist, who always chooses to keep a low profile. Women are no longer in tow – the figure of the double Nobel laureate Marie Sklodowska, known as Curie, remains vindicated. The #MeToo revolution has also broken out, banishing old inertia.
Giordano’s book is a contemporary reflection of our immediate environment –recognizable by different events and social changes– where people live with horrors and metabolize them in their daily lives combined with their personal sorrows.
It is an easy-to-read book, soft in form, which puts hope on the horizon, Tasmania, simply the name of a place where you can feel safe. The author achieves more than meets the eye in this story in which the memory of the atomic bomb acts as a counterweight to minimize the problems of privileged existences.
Paolo Giordano Tasmania / Tasmania. trad. by JM Salmerón Arjona and Pau Vidal. Tusquets / Ed. 62. 304 pages. 20.90 euro