Italy's Veltroni on fiction, politics and Obama

Wed Oct 1, 2008 9:08am EDT
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By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Italian opposition leader Walter Veltroni says it seems like a contradiction in terms for a politician to write a novel, but he did so anyway and it made him a better politician.

Veltroni, 53, who lost a general election to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in April, visited New York to mark the publication of an English translation of his novel "The Discovery of Dawn."

Veltroni, a former editor of left-wing daily L'Unita, started his political career in the now defunct Italian Communist Party. He now heads the Democratic Party, Italy's main opposition party.

The former mayor of Rome and author of a string of non-fiction books, Veltroni wrote the preface for the Italian edition of Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope."

He spoke to Reuters about literature and politics.

Q: Why did you write a novel?

A: "The book was written during a summer in which I had stayed in Rome, when I was the mayor of Rome, because it was the summer after the attacks on the subway in London. My family had gone on vacation so I was in Rome alone in August.

"I wrote it starting from this idea at the center of the book which is the idea of this phone call from the protagonist to himself as a child, which is a form of magical realism, a twilight zone thing.   Continued...

<p>Italian opposition leader Walter Veltroni is seen here in this undated handout picture released to Reuters October 1, 2008. REUTERS/Handout</p>