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The need to love finds a way in spite of everything

· Culture ·

Based on a true story, Fuoco al cielo [fire in the sky] by Viola Di Grado (La nave di Teseo) recounts the life of Tamara, born in Musljumovo, a village on the boundaries of Siberia not far from a secret city. There were secret cities in the Soviet Union, designated to produce missiles and atom bombs, which no one could leave, where people lived well, what with dances and good food, and excellent teaching for the children, who in the best of cases had a very frail immune system. In 1957 an accident spread radioactivity throughout the area, but even before it this nuclear waste was being disposed of in the river uninterruptedly. In the 1990s, in the deserted village emptied by death and abandoned by escaping families, Tamara, a former elementary school teacher, lives a love story with Vladimir, a nurse from a good family who had arrived from Moscow. The countryside is one of the protagonists of this story: tortuous and dusty. In Viola Di Grado’s pages the anguish comes across clearly; it is the very air that is breathed in Musljumovo, although no one mentions this. Radioactivity and physical and psychological illnesses are absorbed into normality; for all the inhabitants, but not for Tamara who does not manage to free herself from a tormented, authentic and profound need to love. Tamara and Vladimir, in their genuine love, tormented and painful, conceive a son who, like so many other children in Musljumovo, is born and dies immediately. Tamara’s desperation is profound; it seems that there is no way out, but one day something happens, a voice on the telephone gives her directions and she finds a living being behind a bush. In spite of everything, Tamara recognizes him as her lost son. Written in obsessive language, with short sentences that follow one another without respite, this book has an imaginative vocabulary, assertive, not obvious and often powerful. Fuoco al cielo is a book on love in an extreme territory. It is a book open to hope: the need to love inscribed in our innermost depths, despite every circumstance, finds a way. 

Carola Susani




St. Peter’s Square

Feb. 17, 2020