In the novel “Pasolini or the Night of the Fireflies”, José María García López, paints a very vivid portrait of the Italian poet, writer and cinematographer Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose 1975 assassination has been shrouded in mystery throughout the intervening decades. In spite of his prolific career as a writer, in some countries like the United States he is known more as a movie director than an author. Son of a fascist military man, Pasolini, a declared communist, dedicated his life to the defense of the marginalized and of marginal topics, among which were the friulian Language, spoken in his mother’s native region and other languages in Italy, which were despised by Benito Mussolini.
As the reader delves into the book, the author reveals Pasolini’s magnetic, fearless and provocative personality which has always awakened great passion. He also reveals that part of the writer’s psychology which relates to his complex family relationships expressed in love for his mother, the rejection of his father and the death of his younger brother. He is also presented as racked by guilt for his homosexuality and for not having been able to prevent his brother’s death.
Throughout the three long sections in which García López divides the novel, the dialogues ring original because of the way in which the author allows the reader to get a close-up view of Pasolini’s complex personality such as the episode when he speaks with the patron saint of lawyers, St. Yves of Brittany.
Pasolini was aware that for many social and political sectors of Italian society he was uncomfortable, but as García López indicated, he was “…an astute, brave man, who believes without narcissism, in the importance of his voice, but who cannot ignore the fact that he represents a target for many Italian authorities of today.” The portrait that the author paints of the Italy of his time, the fascist mafia and that which was involved in prostitution along with the description of his works, many of which were seen as a condemnation, and his risky personal life are elements that give the reader foresight of what could happen to Pasolini.
While Reading this novel, the American reader will be reminded of some famous people that, like Pasolini, suffered persecution at the hands of the state like the African American Singer Nat King Cole, during the civil rights struggle in the United States.
This novel also presents a certain similarity to the Gabriel García Márquez novel “Chronical of a Death Foretold” by virtue of the fact that nobody did anything to stop the assassination of Pasolini. Likewise, the world of intrigue, the mafia, the tentacles of the CIA and the deterioration of essence of the human race presented calls to mind the book “God’s Banker” by Bernat Montagud.
His socio-political commitment, the passion with which his work was imbued and the recognition he enjoyed in the intellectual sphere, do not seem to mesh with his personal life, specifically his particular sexual preference for young boys, almost always minors. This aspect could be an obstacle for its acceptance in an American society which maintains a zero tolerance policy towards pedophilia.
The death of Pasolini must have been a relief for his enemies, but they could not have ever imagined that killing him would give his ideals more power and would pique a greater interest in them by the public at home and abroad. His death “is an irreparable national shame” says criminologist Donatella Ferraro, one of the novel’s characters in charge of the investigation. This sentiment still seems to be felt by a large part of Italian society reflected in this 35-year search by Donatella to solve the Pasolini case. It is also a nightmare in which the silence of those witnesses at the Ostia Hydroport where the poet was assassinated, has been repeated over and over again in a justice system that ignored evidence from the beginning and has offered minimal collaboration.