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2008. In an estancia in Bahía Negra, Upper Paraguay, a woman tidies up her travel notes: in those notes, between a few faded photographs and a handful of memories, runs the mystery of a man who lived his existence like an adventure novel, and whose end is shrouded in legend. Late 19th century. Guido Boggiani is an established painter, he frequents d’Annunzio and the most refined artistic circles, but success does not satisfy him. He dreams of a new life, pursues a freedom that is impossible for him to grasp in Italy, and decides to leave. He crosses the Atlantic and in the wild and dangerous, intriguing and seductive territories of South America, he finally finds what he is looking for: a world – and a people, the indigenous tribes of the unexplored Paraguayan Chaco – yet to be discovered. Here, amidst the threats of the ‘backwards-footed’ Pitáyovai cannibals and new friendships fuelled by ‘shared solitudes, by nostalgias that remain unshared and by the fuel guaranteed by whisky’, Guido adopts the style of the Indians, but soon finds himself an uncomfortable presence, looked upon with suspicion by the natives and openly opposed by the big landowners, who do not like the European who defends the tribes from exploitation at all. Laura Pariani composes a great choral novel, as thrilling as Stevenson and as luminous as García Márquez: a journey at breakneck speed, backwards and without maps, carefully choosing words along the path as if they were clues, traces of lives unknown to us that we discover belong to us.

Laura Pariani (1951) has devoted herself to painting and comics since the 1970s; since the 1990s, mainly to fiction. Her latest novels include: Questo viaggio chiamavamo amore (2015), Che Guevara aveva un gallo (together with Nicola Fantini, 2016), Domani è un altro giorno disse Rossella O’Hara (2017), Di ferro e d’acciaio (2018). She has received numerous awards, including Premio Grinzane Cavour, Premio Selezione Campiello, Premio Piero Chiara, Premio Elsa Morante, Premio Mondello.