Now That You’re Here
Original title: Adesso che sei qui
A portrait of a woman who becomes an example for everyone, Aunt Camilla gives us a glimpse of life as it should be. Mariapia Veladiano has written a book about hope showing us that in life you never stop learning. Only when you accept to question yourself can you embrace the unpredictability of life. — la Repubblica
Set in a romantic village on Lake Garda within a small and willing-hearted community, this feel-good novel tells a delicate story about kindness and generosity, bursting with positive vibes and with the power to restore our faith in humanity.
Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking that this might be the day the world collapses. But then it does collapse. “What else is there to say, she lost it”, is the family’s callous verdict on Camilla. Old, yes, but still independent, chirpy, and full of life – at least until she gets sick. Slowly but surely, her illness strips her of memories, habits, names, and faces. According to the doctors, the only possible solution seems to be a hospice.
There is just one dissenting voice: Andreina, Camilla’s niece, but she loves her like the daughter she never had. Andreina begins to take care of her aunt herself, day by day, experimenting and trying, above all, not to chase the normality they have lost. There is a new normal to be forged now, a new balance to be struck. Not an easy process, certainly; but possible. Especially if you have someone by your side. Almost by chance, a group of people gather around Aunt Camilla, “the gals” happy to keep her company, like lively Mehrhawit, who came to Italy from Eritrea; the encouraging masseuse Loretta; and Naima from Algeria, who along with her sons Fuad and Qasim fill the house with the warmth of a real family. Thanks to them and Andreina, Camilla’s life changes, or rather it doesn’t change: she holds on to her old rituals, her little quirks, familiar objects and the faces of her loved ones, even though she can’t remember their names. Aunt Camilla discovers an unexpected peace, a familiar, childlike calm “found in the present, a time that none of us has left.”
This tender and heartfelt new book written by Mariapia Veladiano unveils an intimate but universal story of hope, friendship and female solidarity. It tells about an Italy, and a Europe, that is aging (or “growing up”, as Mehrawit puts it) and finds itself forced to redefine itself. An Italy that sees a new idea of community developing all around: one that is diverse, free of titles and formal constraints — open. In Camilla’s eyes, everyone is a stranger, but that means that, in reality, no one is.
- Winner of the Premio Flaiano