Sports is about life: Pietro Grossi

Italian author Pietro Grossi who has won the Campiello Europe Prize for his collection of short stories called Fists, enamoured the audience at the Kolkata book fair with his insights on sports, fiction and life. Arnab Chakraborty interacts with Grossi. Excerpts:

Pietro Grossi
Pietro Grossi

You have made a career out of writing about sports and its connection to people, and the way it brings out the truths of our lives. So why sports?

You could say it was partly because I was a boxer myself for about 12 years and I enjoyed boxing. Like boxing I believe every sport reflects life in its own way. For example in that ring you are locked with a vicious man opposite to you and you are scared of him and in the same way life scares me sometimes because I have this constant feeling that it is much bigger than me. So things like that are what is so great about boxing and sports in general.

In Fists, you talk of the movement into adulthood for two different people with completely different backgrounds and you portray their journey through boxing.

Well in Italy people never become adults. You will see a lot of people with white hair but they never really mature enough to be called actual adults. This is completely different from countries like India where people grow into adulthood too fast. So this was my inspiration for the story.

Since we are on the page of sports why did you not write about soccer as of yet?

Soccer is a really difficult sport to write about and I donít know why. For me however the big soccer does not really have that appeal because of all the corruption that has been associated with it for the past few years. Now there is a shady and misty character about it that makes you wonder whether you are actually watching a fair game.

So will you ever write about it?

Yes I would like to perhaps about minor soccer played by kids in small towns.

A lot of famous authors faced publishing hassles at the beginning. What was your experience with publishers and readers?

I was really very lucky and my stories always got published by chance. I never really had to work for it. As for readers, Italy has many nice readers but over the years they have sharpened a bit. Still that is nothing compared to the number of readers in India, I think I would love to be a writer here.

So how do you like India and Kolkata and this book fair?

Well India is like a melting pot of profound spirituality and confusion and complexity at the same time. As for Kolkata I like this city very much and I would love to take a walk and get lost in its streets. Whenever I go to any new place I like to get lost in it and I would love to do the same here.

Of novellas and novel writing, which do you prefer?

I guess I am more comfortable with writing novellas. It is like your high school girlfriend to whom you can go back to any time but a novel is more adventurous and complex. Well I am just completed writing a novel called Incanto. but it has been only published in Italian for now. So for now, its rest. ó IBNS