© Stephan Vanfleteren
The Italian author Paolo Cognetti (1978) began writing as a teenager so that, as he puts it, “he could be someone else”. To learn how to tell a good story, he attended the film academy in Milan, followed by working as a documentary maker. In the ten years that followed this, he made a range of films and published several collections of short stories. One of these, Sofia draagt altijd zwart (Sofia always wears black), a novel in stories, was published in Dutch by the Bezige Bij publishing house in 2013. A clear documentary style is reflected in his books. Cognetti observes and records. His big breakthrough came in 2016 with the novel The Eight Mountains, which won him the Premio Strega in Italy. The diary entries in De buitenjongen, recently published in Dutch, form the prelude to The Eight Mountains: the two books – both translated by Patty Krone and Yond Boeke – form an organic whole.
“Paolo Cognetti has written a magisterial story about friendship and family relationships, located against the irresistible and terrifying backdrop of the Italian Alps. …Paolo Cognetti appears to be an Italian David Vann. He describes in an unprecedented way the raw, restrained power of the mountains and what they ignite in people.” Marnix Verplancke in De Morgen