AAU’s Andrew Giarelli teaches students about reasonable writing goals and respecting deadlines – lessons he did not follow with his new novel The Talking Statues. The literary thriller set in Rome started as a scholarly project on that city’s “Talking Statues”, a 500-year-old tradition of anonymous satires on the news posted on six different statues.

“It seemed I would never finish,” Giarelli recalls. Besides five centuries of material in Rome’s libraries, new “pasquinate” appear daily on Pasquino, the most famous statue. Halfway through his scholarly book, his U.S. university publisher was sold to one who suggested re-focusing on just modern examples.

“I couldn’t bring myself to throw away all that work,” he recalls. “So, I ignored them.” He kept visiting Rome from his new Prague base. In 2015 he was telling a student about the endless project. “She said I should turn it into a novel.” He did, writing the novel over two years. Here is the cover blurb:

What does the message on battered ancient Roman statue Pasquino mean, and why is it seemingly addressed to Charlie Sala, an American scholar writing a book about the city’s “talking statues”? Together with enigmatic Czech lighting designer Pavlina Herecová, he will be pulled into the world of pasquinisti, the ragged and erudite crew of street poets preserving a 500-year-old tradition against black marketeers who are using the statues to sell pillaged Near Eastern artifacts. Featuring centuries-old street lore and climaxing in a 21st century light show that makes the statues speak once more, The Talking Statues twists through historical and literary labyrinths against a savory Roman backdrop.

By David Kumermann

The Talking Statues is published by Vienna’s danzig&unfried and is available as e-book and paperback from Amazon and many central European online booksellers including: buchwelten.atintu.atkulturkaufhaus.delovelybooks.de.,buch7.dehugendubel.dethalia.de and athesiabuch.it.