Spanish author Manuel Vilas and Donatella di Pietrantonio on the relationship with parents after their death
Can a book become an instrument of reconciliation with a mother and a father even if they passed away? Spanish author Manuel Vilas sought to do just that with his critically acclaimed autobiographical novel Ordesa. “When you are over 50,” explains the author to the audience gathered in Piazza Castello, “you realise that much of your life has already happened and you want to remember and save it: this can also be done through literature. I am interested in the usefulness of literature: for me, one of its main benefits is the illusion of saving past time.”
Interviewed by Italian writer Donatella di Pietrantonio, author of A Girl Returned, Manuel Vilas entertains the public with his answers permeated of tender, bright nostalgia towards the image of his parents.
When he lost his parents, Vilas realised he couldn't be a son anymore and was struck by the sudden question: "What am I, now?" According to the author, this happens to many human beings who have always lived the identity of being a son or daughter, but when their parents die — no matter their age — they fall into a kind of orphanage, losing their identity. Donatella di Pietrantonio questions generate a deep but at the same time lighthearted conversation about the errors we make with our parents and the plethora of regrets we feel when they're gone.
At the same time, the theme of fatherhood passing from father to son remains for Vila one of the most complicated to be reconciled with. Manuel Vila's anecdotes about his mother's chaotic and anarchist personality and his father's non-verbal communication made the audience smile. “All the curses that my mother threw at me when she used to tell me that my children were going to treat me the same were fulfilled. Today I called my younger son three times, and he never picked up the phone. Exactly like I used to do with my mother. Sometimes I feel like if my mother came back to life and was saying to me: I told you so!”