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Massimo Carlotto on The Guardian: How Italian booklovers are coping in the coronavirus lockdown

Readers across the country are recommending books as publishers, writers, bookshops and libraries attempt to keep joy in people’s lives

Massimo Carlotto on The Guardian

Translated by Claire Armitstead

Snow falls on the rooftops in eerie silence. Just days ago this mountainous countryside at the border with Austria was packed with tourists. Now it is almost deserted, its ski resorts, hotels and restaurants closed. We usually cross the border to go shopping and to fill our tanks with petrol which costs less and is of better quality, but now the Austrian customs have been ordered to close. It’s no longer possible to get through. I don’t usually live in this valley, but I have a house here to which I flee when I need peace to concentrate on writing – usually when I am late with a deadline for a novel and my editor is starting to fret. But now I prefer to stay here. Not only because contact with other people is minimal but because I want to watch what is happening from the right distance. The coronavirus is changing the collective imagination of the Italians and we writers must be in a position to record it. I watch Padua, my city, via webcam. The beautiful squares are deserted. Finally people are coming to terms with the gravity of the situation.

The lockdown is absolutely necessary: the national health system is not in a state to accommodate a large number of intensive care patients. Italy is paying the price for sustained cuts. But fortunately the government has had the courage to take drastic measures in a country that is culturally accustomed to interpreting rules with a certain elasticity. Some of the population, confined to their homes, are venting their anxiety and frustration on social media and there have been incidents such as assaults at the supermarket. But celebrities and sports stars have united in an outreach campaign called #Istayathome. Their message is insistent: don’t leave your house. Doctors and nurses are also throwing themselves into the appeal.

Read full article on The Guardian