23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Paolo Giordano
© Hartwig Klappert

Paolo Giordano

Paolo Giordano was born in the Italian city of Turin in 1982, and studied physics at the University of Turin. At the age of 22, while studying for his final exams, he discovered his interest in writing as a hobby.

He began by writing short stories that focused on childhood. His first novel, »La solitudine dei numeri primi« (Eng. »The Solitude of Prime Numbers«, 2010), published in 2008, met with phenomenal success, establishing him as a literary talent overnight, and became a best-selling novel in Italy the same year it was published. At its heart, it is a coming-of-age and a love story between two protagonists marked by childhood experiences that have made them outsiders. Alice’s fear of her tyrannical father causes her to have a skiing accident that results in a serious leg injury. She is left with a permanent limp, and a feeling of being at odds with herself and her fate. Mattia, on the other hand, loses his mentally handicapped twin sister while he is supposed to be looking after her: for the very first time, he leaves her alone in a park for just a few hours so he can go to a birthday party on his own. To compensate for the guilt he feels he takes refuge in a world of numbers and formulas. The childhood experiences of Giordano’s characters make them outsiders, their loneliness protecting them from society and themselves. They meet at school as adolescents, drawn to each other’s loneliness. Even though they are close to each other, like two prime numbers (11 and 13, for example), there is also always something separating them. In clear, poetic prose, which is equally sober and stirring, Giordano consistently creates powerful images for how our childhood dramas continue to influence our lives. The author’s idols are English and American writers such as David Foster Wallace and Ian McEwan, whose novel »The Child in Time« (1987), which deals with childhood, loss and quantum physics, inspired Giordano’s treatment of the theme of childhood in his novel. For his début novel, Giordano was awarded, among others, the Premio Strega, the most prestigious Italian literary prize. Most recently he has written »Il corpo umano« (2012; Eng. »The Human Body«, 2014), a tale of young soldiers trying to reorient themselves after returning home from having served in Afghanistan, and »Il nero e l’argento« (2014; tr. »Black and silver«, 2015) about the relationship of a couple, where – in keeping with the Greek scholar Galen of Pergamon’s theory of color – the blackness of melancholy comes up against the silveriness of joyfulness.

Giordano is currently working on his doctorate in particle physics. He lives in Turin.


Die Einsamkeit der Primzahlen

Karl Blessing

München, 2009

[Ü: Bruno Genzler]

Der menschliche Körper


Reinbek, 2012

[Ü: Barbara Kleiner]

Schwarz und Silber


Reinbek, 2015

[Ü: Barbara Kleiner]