19.11.2009 - Sandro Veronesi, Nicolai Lilin

Most non-Italians first heard of Sandro Veronesi as the author of The Force of the Past, a beautiful novel about a man whose life begins to falter once he finds out that his father possibly led a double life. The theme of the novel – Samuel Beckett’s I can’t go on, I’ll go on – continues to be an important theme for Veronesi: in his masterpiece Caos Calmo [calm chaos] the main character Pietro Paladini saves a woman from drowning while at home disaster strikes. Caos Calmo won the most important literary prize of Italy, was crowned Best European Novel in France and has been beautifully translated for screenplay with a movie starring Nanni Moretti.
Nicolai Lilin now lives in Italy but belongs to the Urka’s, a Siberian criminal community. They call themselves ‘honest criminals’ and as a reader you have to put aside your perceptions of good and evil when you read this story but you’ll soon see what they strive for. They follow strict ethical codes around the use of violence and have a Robin Hood look on life: fight the (corrupt) state and stand up for the destitute. Meanwhile the Urka’s have been ostracized to the most barren corner of Siberia- Transdniestra. Siberian Education is Lilin’s literary debut, a shout for survival for this dying community.