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About Vittorio Vandelli

Vittorio Vandelli is a teacher of English Language and Literature and an author, a translator, an essayist and a musician.

He was born and raised in the country in which he still lives, Italy, the cradle of the best and the worst.

He went to grammar school in the early seventies, a time of high ideals of change that taught him to see behind closed doors and to love folk and rock protest music, becoming a musician himself.

He attended university in Bologna during the ‘lead years’ of terrorism that followed the rebellious sixties. He graduated in American Literature with a thesis on R. Chandler and the ‘hard-boiled novel’, a genre he has always loved because it denounces the evil of society in a fast-paced narrative form.

In this epoch, he also studied literature at Centro Studi Americani in Rome and English in London, where he had the chance to learn about the British welfare state of the Labour years. He also travelled extensively in the USA, curious to see the state of the nation ‘on the road’, inspired by the American rebel authors of the 50s and 60s.

In the eighties he started teaching English in public schools and made seminars, lectures and courses on British and American literature, music and cinema.

In 1989 he happened to be one of the ten finalists in a national literary competition with his first hard-boiled novel, Scrivere o Uccidere (Writing or Killing). It was then that he considered a career as an author. As a noir novelist must do, he kept a close eye to the troublesome events that were taking place in his country: it was the period of the ‘second mafia war’, of the falling of the traditional political parties, whose intrinsic corruption was revealed by unprecedented investigations. It was an age of political vacuum and distress. It was the phase that would allow Berlusconi to seize power and govern almost untouchably for the following twenty years, offering extraordinary material to a noir author interested in joining fiction and reality.

In the 2000s he started writing about the world he knew from within, education in Italy, a issue that clearly revealed the advancement of a unique neo-con social model. He wrote articles and essays on education and then a series of satirical novels and short-stories on the Italian school system: Il professor Bingo (2000), Il professor Bingo e il nuovo che avanza (Professor Bingo and the new advancing world,2001), Questa scuola non è una azienda! – I racconti del professor Bingo (This School is not an Enterprise! – Professor Bingo’s Short-Stories, 2006), Il professor Bingo e le Idi di Marzo (Professor Bingo and the Ides of March, 2008), Le Pillole del prof. Bingo 2000-2010 (Professor Bingo’s Pills 2000-2010). In these works he revealed the other typical feature of his fiction: satire.

That was also a risky period for the author. Living in Italy means living on the edge, twisted among the art works of Michelangelo and Leonardo, the architecture of Florence and Rome, the unseen presence of the mafia and of corruption and crooked politicians. It means being caught between accepting the state of the country, like many people do, and the desire to shout out loud. But writing was the author’s answer to consciousness’ oblivion. As he said: “Writing is my way of coping with chaos and my cry of freedom. It is my way of seeing beyond deception. It is my homage to beauty. A writer is a whistleblower in his everyday passionate resistance to power. That’s why I write about my country. Stories have power. Power to denounce, to teach, to inspire, sometimes to heal.”

In this phase he also published another noir novel, Runaway-fuga a Venezia (Runaway to Venice, 2003), shortlisted for the final phase of the literary prize ‘Arturo Loria’ 2003. In 2013 he printed Dark City, a dystopian SF noir that describes the evils of contemporary Western society in the context of the post-9/11 crash of civilizations, joining together his interests in political reality and noir fiction. With the publication of 1994–2014 – Silvio Berlusconi’s Italy , he moved from fiction to non-fiction but, in a way, he remained faithful to the genre. This portrait of Italy and its godfather in the last twenty years is in fact a mafia tale, a gangster story, a political thriller and a scandalous sex story.

Vittorio, tell us more about yourself... +

Growing up often means to settle down. Entering society as a professional often means to give up ideals and hopes, to lose faith and the desire to keep on fighting for democracy.

If you live in beautiful and corrupt Italy, the risk of losing your civic consciousness is even higher because following the carelessness of the majority of the people is an easy way out. When I started teaching and began my adult life I was on the brink of following that line. But that famous verse kept pounding in my brain:

"How many times must a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn’t see?"

Slowly I discovered that writing was my way of coping with chaos and my cry of freedom, my homage to beauty. Because stories have the power to denounce, to teach, to inspire, sometimes to heal. That was a kind of epiphany and so I decided that being a writer would be my way to keep on keeping on and that words would be my bullets, my answers to the Weapons of Mass Deception. From that day on my conscience was at ease and growing old more endurable. And I knew I could ‘look up and see the sky’.

What does your book, "Silvio Berlusconi's Italy" mean to you? +

...when Berlusconi was given an unexpected final guilty verdict, I decided I would write a book about the unbelievable (to foreign eyes) Silvio Berlusoni's Italy, to try and explain something foreigners cannot understand.

An exhaustive book in English about the Berlusconi Age did not exist and I felt it was a moral and civic duty of mine to write it down.

Writing it down has meant for me a way to clear my conscience, to fulfill the moral duty to give voice to the astonishing events I was witnessing, while the majority of the people accepted them as normal facts. Once the book was finished, I felt a sense of relief, as if to say: it is all written here, and there is no way to let it all slip into oblivion.

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