Africa’s breath. Interview to Richard Mason

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«A good storyteller has some qualities in common with a good liar but for me it’s very important that story I tell is for the truth. I take that responsability very seriously».

Faithful to his literary vocation, English writer – native to South Africa – Richard Mason comes back to the bookstore with his new novel, Who Killed Piet Barol?, published in Italy by Codice Edizioni, book of the year for «The Times», «The Observer» and «Mail on Sunday». Six years after History of a Pleasure Seeker, we find again Piet Barol’s character in Cape Town with wife and child, desperately looking for a way to stay afloat.

Trickster, liar, charming: Piet Barol has a very particular personality. Mason, what did intrigue you in the construction of this character?

I wanted to give to Piet Barol something of my own, the gift of tell a story. If you’re able to tell a story that other people believe, it makes you powerful. I pointed what it’s like to be someone who obtains some kind of personal power, how it makes things possible in your life and also it makes your life more complicated. It was interesting point to explore.

In his new book, set in 1914, you considers the Native Land Act

In the July of the 1913 the white government of South Africa abolished property right of black people. Suddenly, the all of black of South Africa were thrown out of houses or the position taken from men. It had many effects but it’s often been forgotten. I think actually thing that got me write this story is tell people this history again.

What do you think about international immigration management?

European Countries like Italy and Greece there are facing the big challenge of immigration, but there are not these countries they caused problems from wich these people are fleeing: these problems was caused principally by America and Britain. I have a lot of admiration for the way in wich Italy has welcomed the refugees. I understand that it’s fighting concerning so many people from different countries arriving in your country, but my believe is that your descendants will have a prize for your generosity of now, because this country will open to different cultures, and they’ll always contribute in art, science and economy. I think that first of all we need to stabilize the situation on the Middle East but also, in this period, we have to welcome refugees in time.

Do you think about Trump’s anti-immigration policies?

America is a Country of immigrants, it’s this always been the spirit of America.

You founded Kay Mason Foundation. In wich way do you think it’s possible to assist South Africa’s development?

I think the contribution that I can make is to help exceptional young people grow up to be leaders. South Africa needs leaders in government, in civil society, in business and we have to give to extraordinary children opportunity to get education and life experiences to become leaders. Even they grow up very poor: we’d better think about a very interesting model to help children right at the bottom of society, the poorest of the poor. Individuals can change history: my sister Kay was an extraordinary person and I think that other extraordinary inviduals can change things to better.

You literary debut at the age of 22 with the novel The Drowning People was very brilliant. What are your relations today with creative process and expectations of readers and editors?

I was very lucky, but it was hard in a way to have such success so young. I found very hard to grow up in pubblic. I needed more time in my own: speaking with people night after night in different cities meant for me very psychological difficulties. I had to rediscover the joy of telling a story. Now I have more experience as storyteller and with handling public side.


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