The Parrots by Filippo Bologna. Translated by Howard Curtis
This book is a satire of the world of literary prizes, which I don’t really follow and even less so with the Italian literary prize scene. Some of this may have been lost on me, but I still found this to be a great read. The Parrots tells the story of the three finalists for a literary prize, the Beginner, the Writer and the Master. Each have their own story to tell in the lead up to the award. The narrator of this story appears to be someone mysterious and all-knowing; knowing more than even the characters living the story. None of the characters have real names, being defined by one characteristic. Beyond the finalists, the background characters include the Girlfriend, the Ex Wife, the Second Wife, and the Publisher. This helps create some distance between the reader and the characters, so even when they are making terrible choices, you can casually observe from a distance and enjoy the results.
This story is about what one is willing to do to achieve the Prize, and for what one is willing to give up the Prize. It’s about achieving that success that will overshadow perceived failures. The humour is dark, but that also helps the story from getting too heavy.
I found this to be an enjoyable read, even for someone not part of the world of literary prizes.