An Italian novel of love, laughter and illusion

” I ‘m more of a storyteller than a writer,» says Niccolo Amanniti. Young, successful and reserved, Amanniti is a literary star in Italy whose latest book, «Non ho paura» (I’m Not Afraid), has sold 150,000 copies and will be made into a film by Gabriele Salvatore, the director of «Mediterraneo.» Kastaniotis is bringing the book out soon in a Greek translation. His previous success, «Ti prendo e ti porto via» (I’ll Take You Away), translated by C. Robotis, brought him to Greece in mid-April to present the book. A Roy Lichtenstein picture on the cover of «Ti prendo e ti porto via» declares the book’s affinity with the 1960s and pop culture. The book deals with love, illusion, expectations and the comic. «Comedy interests me a lot,» says Amanniti. «My heroes are drawn from the comic heroes of Italian cinema: Sordi, Risi and De Sica.» An authentic Italian neighborhood on the outskirts of Rome innocently eavesdrops on the sounds of the great city. «It is an imaginary place on the border between Lazio and Tuscany, but the natural environment is absolutely genuine. The people are isolated but they develop identical needs through seeing the same images on television. As if they were swimming in an aquarium, where every fish is a different shape and color, my heroes have to tolerate one another. I was interested in seeing how people live together in isolated conditions, and how they dream of a future they know to be an illusion.» The book is being made into a film by Serb director Goran Paskaljevic, who intends to retain the plot but set the action in postwar Serbia. Amanniti counts himself among the wave of writers who came onto the scene in the late 1990s and moved away from minimalist and autobiographical writing. Amanniti often requires solitude to master his material. «Ti prendo e ti porto via» was written in a room in Scotland. His next book will take shape on Kastelorizo, where Amanniti plans to spend a month in solitude.