«Departure has almost become a dogma and this is terrible: we cannot be born in a place to be life, and then dedicate ourselves to death. It is necessary to construct the choice and try to understand why we are leaving.”
The Reggio writer Gioacchino Criaco anticipates that this will be the theme his new book will focus on, due out next year. «I deal with the creation and consolidation of the departure mechanism – he explains – which is almost never linked to actual reasons, but has become automatic. I go back in time and try to understand how it was formed. No one asks any more questions, we just leave. There are those who do it for health reasons, those for study reasons. But Calabria boasts great excellence in the medical field and our University is second to none. There is excessive and useless rhetoric about whether he who stays or who goes is more of a hero. We need to dismantle this mechanism and explain point by point why we are leaving.”
Criaco, what he made his debut in 2008 with the novel “Anime nere” – from which the film of the same name was based, directed by Francesco Munzi, winner of nine David di Donatello and three Nastri d’argento -, is keen to point out that his is a cultural project, divided into many chapters, many of which are already been written, starting with the writing of his first book. «“Black Souls” was born after many debates and discussions with countless people who, like me, had the experience of leaving Calabria. All perfectly integrated into the society in which they now live, but who have maintained an enormous love for their land and who have reached the awareness that the greatest wrong done to us Calabrians is the deconstruction of our knowledge.”
A knowledge that must absolutely be recovered. «Without a wealth of knowledge – he continues – everything that is said about the future of Calabria will remain just chatter. If we cannot reconstruct our thousand-year-old knowledge, the cognitive heritage of our culture, we will not have the means to move forward. And we will continue to be a society that considers itself subordinate to other cultures, a process of drift of our feelings that will lead us to a lack of love for our land.”
Criaco’s world of reference always remains Calabria. «But not as a marginal element – he points out – but almost as a planet that is inside a more complex world. The sense of less that has been instilled in us convinces us that everything relating to Calabria is something local, but this is not the case. Anyone who writes does so referring to a place. And there are no places more universal than others. It’s the contents that make them so».
Calabria, for the writer of Africo, is the great Mediterranean Mother Earth: «Even if its name should have been “Refuge”, because for a very long time it was – he continues – a place without doors and windows, a crossroads of different cultures. Greek, Arab, Armenian, Albanian, Norman: we are all the peoples of the world, a complex universe which, in recent years, has been experiencing a condition of self-marginalization due to the lack of a cultural fabric that gives us awareness. We consider ourselves inhabitants of a peripheral corner of the empire, but this is a mental and cultural conception rather than a real one. Children must be taught that we are equal to others and that we must love our land. Because it’s not ugly, they’ve made it ugly. It is a world that has dignity, like all the others. And our duty is to build the greatest possible happiness within it. Then, whoever wants to leave will do so, but not because no attempt has been made to build it here, but because he wants to find it elsewhere. Whoever stays here must give it their all».