Jul 7, 2008

Mangialibri Interview with Camilla Trinchieri Translated

Here is the English translation of the Mangialibri interview with Camilla Trinchieri that was posted earlier in this blog.

Interview with Camilla Trinchieri by David Frati of Mangialibri

I:A wound, something painful, is hidden behind the story you tell in The Price of Silence. Maybe more than one. Which one do you identify with—the wound coming from An-Ling’s childhood or the one Emma, the protagonist, bears as a mother filled with guilt?

C:My wound is more like An-ling’s, than Emma’s. I too didn’t have a mother. That’s my starting point, even for the lighter stories, the ones you can leave on a seat at the airport. I decided to start writing January 1st, 1986 .I remember that I came home with an idea in my head and I told my husband, “Do you mind if tonight you make dinner?” I wanted to write the story of my mother, but I needed to do a lot of research. I was born in Prague and it was still communist then. To obtain a visa took at least eight months. I would have had to wait without writing, but friends dissuaded me [from stopping] and I decided to write other stories in the meantime. I was working in an advertising agency at the time and my boss refused to give me a raise. I decided to write a novel in which he was murdered. That was the beginning of seven mysteries starring Simona Griffo, an Italian (the reviewer says Italian-American but he’s wrong), who loves art and cooking. They were published under the pseudonym of Camilla Crespi. At a certain point I said stop and decided to use my real name for this story, which isn’t autobiographical.

I: The novel has been translated from English into Italian, a language that you speak and write. What effect did it have on you to be translated in a language that you understand so well? It’s not something that happens everyday to a writer…

C: Having Erika Bianchi translate me into Italian was an incredible joy. I felt myself Italian and American at the same time; I felt whole. It was such a natural process that at a certain point I began to think that the book had even been thought in Italian. Only a few times did I have difficulties understanding a few convoluted passages, but then the original English would disappear and I found myself reading my book. It felt as if the translator no longer existed, that I had done everything.

I: Do you define The Price of Silence a legal thriller? What role does the trial have in your novel?

C: The trial wasn’t in the first draft. I thought of including it to help guide me through the story, but I asked myself: what do I know about trails? It just so happened that I was chosen to be part of a jury in a real trial, and seeing how the American judicial system worked ‘from the inside’ helped me pull it off. It wasn’t a murder trial, however. A guy had stolen $70,000 dollars from his sister.

I: What writers do you look to as reference points?

C: Henry James more than anyone else, even though when I first read him I found his spiraling narration heavy-going. Only when I started writing did I understand that he only hints at things. He never describes a situation openly. He circles around facts; he doesn’t reveal them. For my formation as a reader and a writer, Agatha Christie and all the mystery classics were also very important.

[David Frati-translated by Camilla Trinchieri]