The View From Here Interview:
For part 1 of this interview click here.
Paolo Giordano was born in Turin in 1982. He received a degree with honours in Fundamental Physics from the University of Turin in 2007 and is now working on a doctorate in particle physics. The Solitude of Prime Numbers, his first novel, has sold over a million copies in its native Italian since its launch in 2008, and has sold in 34 countries topping the Dutch and Spanish bestseller lists. It won Italy’s answer to the Man Booker Prize, the Premio Strega Award, making him the youngest author to receive this award.
With The Solitude of Prime Numbers easily ranking as my favourite read of the year I caught up with him in the middle of his book tour.
Your writing style is very focused and well crafted, do you think you are using similar disciplines that you would bring to your study of Physics or do you think you are engaging a different part of your brain when it comes to writing?
I think it's a different part of the brain, but there are regions in common. In a way, I've been so deeply involved in physics and for so long, that I cannot get rid of some structures and of a certain method. But writing has much to do with memories and concrete things, whereas the physics I've been working with is built on connections and abstraction only.
How easy did you find it splitting your day between writing and studying? Did you find yourself thinking about your book when you should have been studying or visa versa?
I was very strict in dividing my time. The main duty was physics and I devoted to that all the daylight. Some nights and some free time were instead for writing. Until one year ago, I was convinced I could only write at night. It is funny how lately things have turned in the exact opposite way around.
Have you enjoyed the publicity side of doing interviews, book signings, travelling to other countries to promote the book etc? And can you tell us a bit about some of those experiences.
I don't enjoy interviews very much. It always seems to me I have to add something to my book, that, instead, should already say anything needed. And, also, I don't like to appear as myself. The thing I hate the most is to appear on television: that's why I did it quite seldom, only when it was really worth it. Book signings are quite fun because still I don't really understand them: as a reader I wasn't interested at all in meeting authors of the books I loved. Travelling is the best thing, even though I travel for work, which is usually not that relaxing. But it gives me the impression that things can still expand, that there are lots of chances out there, lots of different ways of looking at literature.
What's it been like seeing your writing translated - do you worry that in being translated subtleties and nuances are lost?
I have trust in translators. As I am quite lazy, I always read foreign authors translated into Italian and I never had the impression I was missing something important. I assume foreign translators are as good as the Italian ones... Of course, some nuances are lost, but some new are gained.
Can you tell us anything about the film adaptation? Is it still due to start shooting in August and has the cast been decided?
The cast hasn't been decided yet. We are again working on the script as, when time passes, new small problems arise. Then, the start of shooting is postponed to fall.
Are you writing the screenplay then or acting as an advisor? And how have you found the script writing process compared to writing the novel?
I'm writing the script together with the director, Saverio Costanzo. It's a very different process from that of writing prose, mainly because the script is not a definitive form, but only an intermediate step. This allows you to put more effort on ideas and concepts rather than on the form itself. And, moreover, it is not such a lonely activity. Working in two makes everything more dialectic and, in the end, even more fun.
Can you tell us anything about your next book and have you started on it?
I haven't started yet. So far, I have a working title (but I'm not going to say it!) and some scenes in my mind. I know who the protagonist will be, how his voice will sound like (he's a fourty-year-old-man) and more or less the overall structure. I think it's enough to start. I just need to be a little more relaxed. The themes won't be that different from those of “The solitude” - again the relation between different ages of life, between father and son, wife and husband – but the perspective will change and will be, I think, more personal, careless of all the dangers related to that...
Photo Source: Elena Torre