Emma Bonsanti is back, the same but different. Today in Messina the writer Aldo Pagano

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By John

«Of the four novels with Emma as the protagonist, this is the one I am most attached to. She is a more fragile Emma, ​​although always determined in her duty. In Emma there is a part of me, the one that experiences personal crises, and there is also my feminine part. Through female characters I was able to understand many things about myself and others. If only men understood this…” From Emma Bonsantideputy prosecutor in Bari, we speak with Aldo Paganothe writer who gave birth to her as a character and now returns to «Erba d’annata» (Piemme): a socio-anthropological “mystery”, rather than a noir, as is Pagano’s style, in which the crime , always in the foreground – and this time it is the death of Giorgio, a smart young man from Bari – sets in motion a sort of qûete through which we read about the crisis of the family, of friendship, of love, of the bourgeoisie and its “secrets”.
«If the readers, who are the ones who follow me the most, and the readers decide to read, they know that they will find these themes together with Emma’s investigations», says Pagano, from Palermo who lived in Messina for many years, he sets his novels in Bari and today lives between Como and Milan.
This is the fourth novel of the “cycle” by Emma Bonsanti, after «The Trap of Memories» (2015), «Motivi di Famiglia» (2019) and «Candy by the Known» (2021), all published by Piemme.
But, after Palermo, the writer will return to Messina this afternoon to present “Vintage Grass”, at 6pm at the Mondadori Ciofalo Bookstore.
And so, Emma returns after two years from “Caramelle dai acquaintances”. What is this Emma like?
«She’s a changed Emma like all of us. Two heavy years for our country, between economic hardships and internal hardships, between confusion and loss of planning, between individual and planetary conflicts, between words that are consumed and consumed. Here, Emma, ​​but also Giorgio, as characters are tangentially affected by all this; Between stress and conflict, they too do not find the stimuli to deal with uncomfortable situations, they feel the malaise inherent in our Western system.”
Giorgio, although dead from the beginning, as a fundamental character of this novel is more alive than ever.
«Emma, ​​Giorgio, the chief superintendent Lorusso are alive and true, yes, because the readers and readers in particular make them live and grow, they participate in their character, doubts, thoughts, they sense their moods and their changes , you can say that they build them. The “mystery” is the best tool for analyzing society, customs, the pain of living, human relationships and discomfort.”
Speaking of changes, it is clear that Emma is, despite her recognisability, an evolving character…
«It is, it will change again, and this is a great achievement of Emma’s “person”. In the first novel she was very idealistic. She strongly believed in a left that she had actively lived since she was a girl, now she looks at the present with disenchantment and some nostalgia for the past. She keeps the helm of the sense of duty that she cares a lot about even if in this period she is a little depressed, she struggles with her ghosts, she also lets herself go in self-care. And therefore the investigation and narration also proceed slowly. But then, when she recovers, everything goes faster and together with her, the knots of the case are also untied.”
In “Vintage Grass”, an antiphrastic title that plays with “damned”, there is a “difficult” topic that occupies the entire novel: “grass”, its cultivation, its use, raves. Provocative?
«A topic that I don’t find difficult or embarrassing, perhaps provocative yes. Walking around Milan, smelling the air, I realised, how much use is made of it. We are not talking about heroin or other dangerous drugs that are found without any control in nightclubs and elsewhere, but about “weed” for which I have obtained information from competent people. And then I wanted to address the hypocrisy that revolves around raves and the young people who gather there and the lies built on them by certain policies, with the consequent ideas that even educated and rational people have formed. Giorgio dies during a rave but not for the rave or for the grass, he is killed for other obscure reasons of interest.”
And Emma comes to terms with it. But how does a writer sustain the seriality of his stories and characters? A heavy commitment which, I imagine, requires long-term planning to maintain the recognizability of the character and insert traits of originality and different plots each time.
«I’ll start by saying that Emma was born inside me even before I wrote about it. I always repeat that she was born from the combination of the characters of three women who in my past life I loved and left on the street, to become one on paper. I wrote things for myself but when they asked me to publish, at the beginning I went off the cuff, instinctively, supporting that creative force that when it arrives you have to manage. Then, of course, when I was told that the character had to become a serial, I was invited to program. Although, in reality, although I love Emma, ​​I’m thinking of a different novel.”