How can fiction operate as a tool for political analysis? What fresh insights might we unlock by understanding geopolitical actors as characters?
Giuliano da Empoli is an accomplished political essayist and social commentator. His recent debut novel, Le Mage du Kremlin (translated into English as The Wizard of the Kremlin) quickly garnered international attention, becoming a popular hit in France, Italy, and beyond. The novel centers on a fictionalized version of a real person: Vladislav Surkov, a former adviser to Vladimir Putin.
Speaking about his decision to tell this story through fiction, rather than a political essay, da Empoli stated: “[A]t the heart of power, and Russian power in particular, there are elements of paradox, a permanent contradiction, an irrationality that only literature could transcribe.” (“[A]u cœur du pouvoir, et du pouvoir russe en particulier, il y a des éléments de paradoxe, une contradiction permanente, une irrationalité que seule la littérature pouvait transcrire.”) Join us to learn more about da Empoli’s novel, his political research, and his thoughts on the relationship between fact and fiction.
This program has been produced in partnership with Le Conversazioni, an international festival that hosts stimulating conversations with writers, philosophers, artists, and other distinguished guests. The author will appear in conversation with Antonio Monda, founder of the festival.
About the speakers:
Giuliano da Empoli is an Italian and Swiss political scientist and writer. He teaches at Sciences Po Paris and has published fourteen books on subjects ranging from information overload (Overdose, 2002) to national-populist spin doctors (Les ingénieurs du chaos, 2019). He was Deputy Mayor for Culture in Florence (2009-2012) and a Senior Advisor to the Italian Prime Minister (2014-2016). His first novel, Le Mage du Kremlin (Gallimard, 2022) was awarded the Grand Prix de l’Académie française and is currently being translated in over 30 languages.
Antonio Monda is the founder and Artistic Director of Le Conversazioni and has directed the Rome Film Festival between 2015 and 2021. He has curated exhibitions for the MoMA, the Guggenheim and the Lincoln Center and is currently consulting for the Louvre. He teaches at NYU and is a columnist for RAI and a regular contributor for La Repubblica. The ninth chapter of his ten-volume saga about New York was recently published. His books have been translated into eleven languages.