Book Review: Jenni Fagan, Pellegrini del Sole (Carbonio Editore) (Jenni Fagan, Pilgrims of the Sun, Carbonio Editions)




Carroli, Piera

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There are only three in the sky. It's the last day of autumn, perhaps the last one of all time. It is the phenomenon of solar dogs, of the only ghost. The parelio. (Prologue: 9). I dare anyone to put down the book after such an incipit! Jenni Fagan, nominated for the Granta award (Granta Best Young British Novelist) for the first novel The Panopticon (2013) writes about complex adolescences and courageous adolescents. Of extreme landscapes and ice ages. We are in 2020 - therefore this is not a dystopian text, rather a Bildung novel, a young transgender, Stella, and her mother Constance which is the opposite of constancy with regard to men. Dylan, who grew up in an arthouse cinema in London, has just lost his grandmother Gunn McRae and his mother Vivienne. Returning to his home, after the funeral, the cinema where he was born, Dylan finds his mother's post-it and discovers that he has inherited a caravan parked 930 kilometers north of London. The novel, divided into four parts and preceded by the prologue, is punctuated by a late autumn, an endless winter, icy temperatures and a spring that never comes, or maybe it will? I part, November 2020, -6 degrees; Part II, 8 December 2020, -19 degrees; Part IV or end is near, March 19, 2021, -56 degrees. In London the Thames has frozen (182), the cinema has closed, and debtors would be on his heels so Dylan, despite the cold, decides to go to Lachlan Fells, Scotland, with the intention to sell the caravan then continue to the Orkneys, the land of her grandmother and mother, and scatter their ashes there. As soon as he arrives, he sees a woman "who glitters the moon", I leave it to you to imagine who she is. In parallel to the climatic apocalypse, Stella, the central figure, is going through her personal psychological, social and physical travails: Stella did not think that the first hair or the change of voice would have upset her like that, but she had the sensation of being on the run from herself. She is simply a girl forced to grow up with the face and voice of a male (138). The delicate style and the calm tone with which Fagan manages to describe the landscapes, the inner struggle of Stella, the events and the other characters, make them even more precious, especially knowing that all is ephemeral, evanescent. Is it better to merge with the apocalypse than to escape it? Fagan has succeeded where many have failed: writing a novel about looming ecological disasters without even the slightest trace of rhetoric. Not bad! Unforgettable are also characters such as Dylan, Vivienne and Gunn, all strange in a becoming manner and unusual on a physical level - if you read it you will discover why. And you will go to the land of the pilgrims of the sun ... Finally, congratulations to the Carbonio publishing house for bringing this accomplished young writer to Italy, already mentioned in the New York Times: "A New Novel Envisions at Very Cold Environmental Future, Starting Now"








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