Caile narrates the story of a man who comes to terms with the political and social apathy of his time. Disillusioned with life, he begins analysing the circumstances that led him to the present crisis, in order to understand himself.
One morning, after wandering aimlessly along paths that climb up the mountains of his home town, he finally comes upon the ruins of a hamlet that is significant to him. It had been the home of his ancestors, protagonists of extraordinary events.
Looking at the shape of what had been the threshold of his grandmother’s first home, he begins a journey through space and time, recalling the amazing stories that his mother had told him since his childhood. He then tries to compare past and present in an attempt to comprehend human nature and, consequently, himself. The results of this introspective investigation are found in the last chapter.
Everything that is narrated in this book is ‘true’. Even those events that may appear
to be utterly incredible and fantastic really happened.
Caile is not just the story of a disappointed man interwoven with that of his ancestors:
it is also a tribute to those who fought for an ideal, not for personal gain, but
simply because it was right. They were people of humble origins, but they were intelligent
and had a profound sense of dignity. They were poor, but they were rich inside.
To a certain extent, the central part of the novel is the narration of events from
the point of view of forgotten heroes, protagonists who find no place in bestsellers.
It aims to give voice to those who helped to shape the course of history but, as
so often happens, were soon forgotten.
Caile is also a tribute to women, to their strength, courage and determination:
two of them were my grandmother Maria Rosa and my mother Caterina, whom I loved
very much and to whom I shall always be grateful for their teaching and the example
they set with their life.
Many loving thanks to my mother Caterina for her patient help, and to all the personages
mentioned and not mentioned, who, through their lives, enabled me to realize this
Alas, I had insufficient words to report and describe all the different people and
events, but one hundred books would not be enough, because every event and person
would deserve a dedicated volume, and I would not do justice anyway to what was
once living reality.
To write this book, I had to open a little door of my mind, cross a secret threshold,
reach a small dark room and translate its elusive content. But what you find here,
in this inadequate account, is only a tiny part of me. I had also to forget a possible
reader, not to be affected by his presence. Then, my thoughts ran fast, and my hand
could not keep up with them, thus far too often they ran away.
I believe that, if one day someone should invent a device capable of directly translating
from the intellect, we shall witness the creation of masterpieces never seen before.
A: I began writing poems when I was thirteen years old. Some of them were read at a public venue a year later. At that time I was doing many other things, such as painting, for instance, a compulsory subject at school which I liked very much. I suppose that writing and painting are forms of expression that allow creativity, which seems to suit me.
A: I had always wanted to write down the stories that I had heard from my mother from earliest childhood, fascinating stories of incredible people, which I did not want to die with them. I could have written an essay, which perhaps would have been the most obvious thing to do about real events; but I wanted to focus on the human aspect of history, seen with the eyes of ‘ordinary’ people. I was going through a difficult period of time, and was trying to understand my situation. It came naturally to me to compare my times with those of the Caile protagonists of the novel, for both of them were simultaneously in my mind. Hence the idea to write a novel that could represent and link the two worlds.
A: Perhaps it was also an outlet for my problems, or perhaps it was simply the right time to do what I like very much: writing. But I think that my situation was not unique, was not even tied to a particular period of time; I think that there were others (and there are others today) undergoing a period of similar crisis and that my novel might reflect their uneasiness; and I think that the narration of past events (when life was much harder and people were highly committed to political and social affairs), and the comparison with our times, could (and can) help others, if only as a starting point for personal reflections.
A: So much so that perhaps he forgets to live. In novels, authors have the chance to take things to the extreme, in order to emphasise them. The protagonist’s obsession with the search for truth is nothing else than man’s eternal conscious or unconscious journey of discovery. There were times in human history when men put everything down to the divine; then came the time of knowledge, when it seemed that everything could be explained by science; now there is a trend to unity – divine, human, spirit, reality, perceptions, energy, matter, universe, universes, and so on – all seem to belong to one single unifying entity; and again, once more, men believe that they’ve found the truth, but again it is an act of faith. I believe (and this is also an act of faith), that it is again the impelling need for certainties that makes men of all historic ages formulate their truth based on the limited knowledge of the time. And this is what happens to the protagonist of the novel Caile. Does he find his own truth? You may have to read the book to find out.
A: I always wanted to write an English version of the novel, to present it to a larger international audience. Because of particular circumstances in my life, I now have the necessary time to dedicate to the task. I believe that Caile is not dated; it presents issues that are part of men’s inner being, questions and values that will always be with us.
A: I did not even try to contact agents or publishers. I wanted first to try a direct approach with the public, using the technology to have a more personal and human contact with readers. Perhaps to a certain extent this is similar to the incentive that I felt to study languages and live in different countries: the wish to know about other cultures by talking to people directly.
A: Sometimes the novel might read like an essay (especially the first part and the last chapter). There were readers of the Italian version who approached me and said that they liked it but they did not agree on a few points. It is good that people interpret novels as they wish, but my work does not aim at revealing any ultimate truth: it is a novel, although it is based on a true story. The answer is no, I was not afraid of the risk. Some people advised me that this kind of novel is too intellectual, especially in the first part and the last chapter, which might deter most readers used to commercial, easy-to-read books. I disagree. I have much faith in people’s intellect and interest in challenging issues.
A: When I wrote the novel, I did not even think of a possible reader. No good can possibly come from constraints dictated by external elements and emotions, such as fear of what others might think. But religious questioning is legitimate also among believers. On the other hand, the protagonist’s attitude towards religion may be viewed from different perspectives. His lack of faith may be seen as the primary cause of his crisis, compared with the strength that the people of the hamlet Caile derive from their faith (they succeed, he seems to fail); atheists or agnostics may see him as a hero, not afraid to use his brain to challenge the prevailing belief, in a region of Italy traditionally and profoundly religious; others may simply see him as a pathetic figure, incapable of adapting and fitting in; some may think that the protagonist is raving, that he is trying to deal with issues bigger than himself; and yet others may consider him a normal human being going through a difficult time in his life, like any contemporary man might, and trying to find a solution through his investigative mind; and we could go on and on with possible interpretations. All the above and other interpretations, which may appear to be in contradiction with each other, might be correct: we call all this ‘human’; doubts and certainties are often part of people’s lives, sometimes of their daily life. I believe that in literary works, as much as in other circumstances of life, we often see what we want to see.
A: It is totally autobiographical and biographical, and, at the same time, just slightly autobiographical and biographical. Autobiographical because I believe that everything we do reveals part of ourselves, and slightly because it only reveals a tiny part of ourselves. Biographical because it is also and largely about other people, slightly because when we write about others, we reveal (often inadequately) only a tiny part of them.
A: I would like to be able to reach and touch the hearts of readers, obviously of many readers, and to create the desire to reflect. I would also like to stimulate their desire and enthusiasm to participate in the building of a new global society, that they might be somehow inspired by those protagonists of the novel who, living in dire poverty, in a global context determined by international events, and fully aware of the danger, chose to risk their lives, and in many cases lost them, to create a better world, and they never looked for fame and glory. Today we do not need to die; but if they lived in such incredibly dramatic times and they still believed and acted, why shouldn’t we be able to do something today, with all the resources and favourable environment? I refer, for instance, to poverty, the environment, freedom, democracy, justice...
A: It is. Their stories are so incredible. My mother used to tell me: “If you recount these events to people, they may hardly believe that they really happened.” I feel that I owe so much to them. They have been helping me through the example of their lives and with their wisdom. Maybe their hardship made them wiser. Perhaps I received more wisdom from them than in all my years travelling and studying at universities, and some of them could not even write and read, but had a great sense of human dignity. I like to think of the novel Caile as an act of love for them and, consequently, for humanity, because they were the personification of it: my wish is that the reader feels it, and that a poetic element is perceived.
A: I think that every reader, notwithstanding their background and taste, may find a little bit of themselves in Caile, and everyone may be, to different degrees, touched by the events as they unfold. As I mentioned before, perhaps they will also find the lives of the people of the hamlet Caile inspirational. I also hope that, despite not being considered a commercial novel, Caile will be enjoyable reading.
A: The idea suddenly came to me. I prepared this cover by using the background photograph taken by one of my relatives. The two children are my nephew and niece. I added the family picture in the centre of the lake, plus the title and the author’s name. The family picture was taken in 1927, when one of them, Enrico, then seventeen years old, emigrated to America. The cover is meant to be a symbolic image, a sort of metaphor. The new generation facing their ancestors, and these looking at them: it seems as if they are looking at each other; a link between the past and the present, the Caile heroes handing down their experience and values to the new generation. The picture in the centre of the lake may also suggest a movie screen on which the children on the shore watch their ancestors’ stories unfold. The water is also a symbolic element in the novel, epitomised by Chapter 5, titled ‘The River of Solitude’: the children of the present look at the ‘River of Solitude’ and, instead of seeing themselves and their solitude reflected in the waters, they see their ancestors, who appear like a vision to help them feel that they are not alone.