If You Kept a Record of Sins: A Conversation with Andrea Bajani
Award-winning novelist Andrea Bajani, author of If You Kept a Record of Sins, spent his Tuesday evening on April 5 delighting the guests of the Italian Cultural & Community Center (ICCC) with behind the scenes information about the development of his astounding novel.
The conversation began with University of Houston Moores Professor and Director of Italian Studies Alessandro Carrera giving the guests a heartfelt welcome and introducing Bajani. Professor Carrera moderated the conversation by asking Bajani a series of questions that gave insight to the creative process of writing If You Kept a Record of Sins. Bajani spoke in-depth about the significance of the characters in the book and the inspiration behind certain scenes. Bajani said, as a novelist, he is not like other authors because he cannot make up stories. In fact, he said most of the scenes in If You Kept a Record of Sins were inspired by people or situations he saw or experienced. He spent months traveling to get real content for his book.
Plot: If You Kept a Record of Sins records the indelible marks a mother leaves on her son after she abandons their home in Italy for a business she’s building in Romania. Lorenzo, just a young boy when his mother leaves, recalls the incisive fragments of their life – when they would playfully wrestle each other, watch the sunrise, or test out his mother’s mysterious, mythical invention. Now a young man, Lorenzo travels to Romania for his mother’s funeral and reflects on the strangeness of today’s Europe, which masks itself as a beacon of Western civilization while iniquity and exploitation run rampant. With elliptical, piercing prose, Bajani tells a story of abandonment and initiation, of sentimental education and shattered illusions, of unconditional love.
Throughout the event, two representatives from Brazos Bookstore sold physical copies of the novel. Guests who had not yet read the novel or simply wanted to purchase a copy had the opportunity to do so. The evening ended with a question and answer discussion where the guests that were eager to learn more about the creation of the novel asked more personal questions about Bajani’s travels and his connections with the characters. Some guests even asked for a deeper background about specific characters to help further understand their perspectives in the book.
The ICCC would like to extend a huge thank you to Andrea Bajani for spending his evening with us to talk about his masterpiece, If You Kept a Record of Sins. It was enlightening to hear about the ingeniousness and expertise of an award-winning novelist! We’d also like to thank Professor Carrera for moderating the event and Brazos Bookstore for bringing copies of this amazing book for our guests to purchase. We couldn’t have had a wonderful evening without your help!
The New York Times called If you Kept a Record of Sins “an astonishing novel.” The Publishers Weekly said, “Bajani brings the full weight of his qualities as a poet, journalist, and professor of European Studies to bear, revealing in finely wrought prose the lasting scars of heartbreak on his characters and the body politic. This is deeply affecting.” Jhumpa Lahiri said the sly, prismatic novel “accumulates with the quiet urgency of a snowstorm,” whom Michael Cunningham calls “a true original.”
Andrea Bajani is one of the most respected and award-winning novelists of contemporary Italian and European literature. After his debut with Cordiali saluti (Einaudi, 2005), it was Se consideri le colpe (Einaudi, 2007, If you Kept a Record of Sins, Archipelago, 2021) which brought him global attention. In just a few months, the book won the Super Mondello Prize, the Brancati Prize, the Recanati Prize and the Lo Straniero Prize. He is also an author of journalistic essays and regularly contributes to the daily newspapers la Repubblica and Il manifesto. His works have been translated into many languages, and they have been published by some of the most prestigious American and European publishers, such as Gallimard, Archipelago Books, Siruela, Anagrama, MacLehose, Atheneum, dtv, Humanitas.