Erri De Luca – The Opposite of One

“The opposite of one” is a collection of autobiographical stories that opens with a small poem in verses dedicated to the author’s mother: because in order to be two, you start from mothers. In these nineteen stories of encounters, two is no more the double of one, but its exact opposite: the lack of solitude. These are stories that narrate how a loner bumps into other existences; melancholic, never shallow, dense with life.

We find the unexpected but essential help of a stranger during one of the many clashes in the blood ridden squares in the Seventies; two people climbing the rugged slope of a mountain, only a rope tight at the waist to prevent their fall; the acknowledgment of the end of a love story. Every story is a fragment of life, good or bad, that has left its mark.

Unmistakable in the dry and paced style, where words have the same weight as the instruments of a symphonic orchestra, De Luca draws from his past and takes us to Rome, then to Turin, Tanzania and at the foot of Etna; he makes us stay with him in the middle of a police attack or on a quiet fisherman’s boat off the coast of Ischia.

As every story tastes like a fragment of life lived with the intensity of a malarial fever, you wish it never ended.

Translation by Silvia Accorrà (edited by Sabrina Macchi)