Jonathan Bazzi is the hero that the Witch Award deserves

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The broadcast with which yesterday announced the fifth of the 2020 edition, the first in the history of the award celebrated in the absence of the public, seemed an episode of Sunday in the square on Telemia. He didn’t feel like a dick because the microphones were too far away. Everyone’s haircuts were outdated. The connection with Roberto Fico on Skype to announce the youth prize – won by Daniele Mencarelli, with Everything asks for salvation, Mondadori – jerky. And then, suddenly, a vision from the future, or at least from the present. The writer Jonathan Bazzi in Valentino. A mirage in technicolor. What the hell was a well-dressed 35-year-old doing there, author of a powerful book (Temperature, published by Fandango and proposed by Teresa Ciabatti: we talked about it here), born in Rozzano from a mom and dad totally without Adelphi in the libraries of their living rooms? Maybe the same thing Claudia Durastanti was doing to us last year, she too with a book, The foreigner (here), in which he spoke of a true story, that of his parents and therefore also his (the fashion of the memoir has finally reached the Strega Prize, with obvious and considerable delay), dressed Ferragamo. Jonathan Bazzi in Valentino, however, looked like a fish out of water, a messenger from the future. Francesco Pacifico had already written about the complicated relationship between Italian writers and fashion Studio magazine. It seems that the only alternative to dressing badly, for those who write books in Italy, is to use clothing to launch ideological messages, as did Paolo Cognetti with his lavallière, the bow of the anarchists, which he wore to collect the first prize for The eight mountains.

As Francesco Longo had written here, in the five of the Witch there are always the same roles: the Star, the Academician, the Alien, the Esteemed Writer and the Guest of Honor. So if Jonathan Bazzi had been admitted to the Fifth, would he have entered as an Alien? And to say that in a stimulating literary scenario, Bazzi should be normal. There are more than a dozen of Italian trappers, and it’s wonderful to observe and know all their similarities and differences, the way they influence each other or openly challenge each other. A few years ago, we would not even have been able to imagine such a present for Italian pop music. I dream of an Italian literary environment of thirty and twenty year olds dressed well who churn out books that people read, competing with the best writers. It is madness? Likely. After announcing the five, which obviously included the names expected by all of us (the Star, the Academician, the Esteemed Writer, the Guest of Honor and I allow myself to add a new figure, a new entry of the last few years: the Donna), check article 7 of the Witch’s regulation to protect small and medium-sized publishing houses. The sixth classified, Marta Barone with her Flooded city, is Bompiani, so she is skipped. And Bazzi, published by Fandango, is fished out of seventh place: he is in the final.

The 6 finalists of this year’s edition of the Strega Prize, announced on 9 June: Gianrico Carofiglio, Gian Arturo Ferrari, Daniele Mencarelli, Valeria Parrella, Sandro Veronesi, Jonathan Bazzi.

On its social channels, curiously popular, and with the most varied characters (this is also very strange for an Italian writer!), It’s a party. Because because of the way in which Bazzi has been documenting his problems and his progress on Facebook and Instagram for some years now, by directly involving his “public” (for example with a crowdfounding to buy the PC to write the second novel) , it feels natural to feel part of the process, included in a story that evolves like a movie. And Bazzi knows it, because on Instagram he writes “We are in the final”. “We”. And speaking of films, and the complex relationship that connects real life to fiction, and the (admirable) ability to write a memoir on a very close and still hot past and to tell each other daily, running the risk of irritating some, but helping many others to feel less alone (in the book the many types of stigma that the protagonist must learn to manage intersect: childhood and adolescence lived in a complicated place like Rozzano, homosexuality, stuttering, and finally the discovery of having contracted HIV), just a few days ago the writer announced that his Temperature it will become a movie. Cross Productions, the production house of Skam, purchased the rights.

Some say that Bazzi has mounted his head, that his profile looks like Osho, who acts as a guru, that his book is ugly. Perhaps they would do better to criticize all the people who are on social networks to be a guru without having written an important book – and important because people want to read it, and the merit is also of as it is written, that is, well, with immense care, humility and attention, with delicacy, the desire to make it accessible to everyone without simplifying anything. People who behave like gurus, but have no idea what it means to go beyond your limits – not only personal, but also family, economic – as in the life stories we love so much when it comes to trap and hip-hop, but that then when they arrive in our reality they disturb us a lot, because they confuse us, showing that even in the Italian literary environment it is enough to write a good book to be successful, and yes, you asked your readers for the money to buy you a laptop because they don’t have it you had – and you managed to make yourself loved so much by them that they helped you – and then you found yourself among the finalists of the most famous literary prize in Italy, dressed Valentino from head to toe. There are boring lives, and then there are lives that look like movies, and in fact that of Jonathan Bazzi will become a movie, and the credit is his, which he has been able to tell.





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