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Category Archives: Allgemein

About Writing “Medici Money”

You never know what may be coming through the e.mail. “James Atlas,” this says. “Proposal.” Is it junk mail? I was working on A Season with Verona at the time, trying to get my mind round the way the Italians live football. The central paradox seemed to be an intense local loyalty, the ancient campanilismo, […]

Cruel Clippings

Having moved house some four years ago, we receive very little mail through our old address. However, there is one correspondent I have been unable to inform of the change. Every few months an envelope is forwarded by the patient Italian postal service. It comes from London. My name is scrawled in an untidy print, […]

The ‘F’ Word

‘What was that you said, Dad?’ ‘Oh nothing Lucy.’ I’m at the wheel of my car in heavy traffic. ‘You didn’t say the ‘F’ word, did you Dad?’ Lucia is four. As it turns out these are two of the first full sentences she’s ever spoken in English. I’m proud of her. And embarrassed. ‘Idiot […]

What actually is meditation?

That thought occasionally crossed my mind in the many years I disparaged the practice. I had no idea. The cross-legged statuesqueness of it and the beatific Buddha-smile were enough own to put me off. Whatever it was, it stank of prayer. Having escaped my parents’ evangelical aberrations, their exorcisms and speaking in tongues, I was […]

We didn’t score

The notorious fans of Hellas Verona arrive in Roma, Stazione Termini, on their way to a crucial game in Naples. It’s 2001 when, amazingly, you could still smoke on a train. 7.40 am. Exhausted and hung-over after a long night on hard seats we were finally allowed out of our two locked, segregated carriages onto […]

Valentine’s Day

Sunday is Valentine’s Day. But we already know that Matteo Viviani is giving Isabella Tosi a ring. ‘It’s gold!’ my daughter Stefi insists. She is very excited. Matteo and Isabella are in her class. But he is eleven, a year older than her, because he got sent down a class for failing all his exams. […]


If Brahma is a more endearing creator than Jehovah it is because he wasn’t pleased with what he had made. The great god found the world dull and dusty. Death was the answer, suggested Shiva. Living forever, people were bored. A time-limit would galvanise, give dignity. But in that case some way of replacing the […]

The Nobel Individual – TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT, 20 APRIL 2011

A writer is not famous today unless internationally famous, not recognized unless recognized everywhere. Even the recognition extended to him in his home country is significantly increased if he is recognized abroad. This seems to be the right time and place to say a word about the accelerating internationalization of literature. Because the process affects […]