Cinzia Cognetti’s bitter love (Il Maggio dei Libri 2021)

by Erica Surace

Love: a word with a vast significance, a precious feeling, an experience that pervades all of our lives both in conventional and less conventional ways. In this “Maggio dei Libri” (May of Books), Women Plot wants to tell you about loves that are much more than the classical boy-meets-girl. Today we reflect on love that is suffered and complicated, with a rather bitter taste – and the possible lack thereof – with Cinzia Cognetti (, author of “Scatole Nere” (Black Boxes), a collection of short stories that essentially puts us face to face with our most hidden need, that of being loved. What does it mean to have to cope with the absence of love manifestations, which not only respond to a real human need but also represent the engine of life itself?

  1. What does “love” mean to you?

Love is a term that changes according to people and situations. Defining love is kind of like knowing the secret ingredient of an exotic dish; if you discover it, it loses its mystery and becomes bland. Rationalizing destroys the pleasure of the moment. You don’t get to taste it. Its deeper meaning must remain hidden from reason and be perceived only by the senses, by the heart.

  1. How do your works deal with love?

In my works I talk about a supreme form of love, the love for life, which must be recognized and grasped even when it has the appearance of a wagging tail, a flower, a wave, or a smile.

  1. What are your greatest literary and poetic influences?

Russian literature has definitely influenced me. First and foremost, Fedor Dostoevskij with his dry style, the bursting strength of his words and his mastery in framing his reflection on existence in pages that you wish would never end. Then the authors of the beat generation. They recounted the inner drama of a generation thirsting for novelty and unable to find their place in the world, a drama that is still very relevant today. Then there are the authors of French existentialist literature, such as Simone de Beauvoir, for her ability to explore the soul of women in depth and lay it bare, and Jean-Paul Sartre. But also Charles Bukowski, Mikhail Bulgakov, Milan Kundera. All these authors have taught me something and broadened the horizons of my imagination.

  1. What are the aspects of your personality that are most present in your book “Scatole Nere” (Black Boxes)? 

Scatole Nere is a collection of short stories. The six characters differ from each other in age, experience, and desires, but are united by the need to feel loved. An aspiration that concerns the whole human race and me too. I don’t identify completely with any of the characters, but aspects of my personality are present in all of them. I imagine them as the sides of a dice: different faces that belong to the same cube.

  1. What does it mean to you to be an emerging writer in modern publishing?

Being an emerging writer in modern publishing means having the enthusiasm of a neophyte and the courage to show oneself through words, without the anxiety of betraying expectations. A freedom that, unfortunately, is disappearing more and more with each of my publications. But it is the calculated risk of the writing profession.

We will have the pleasure to speak with Cinzia on Thursday, 27 May 2021 alle 6:30 (CEST) through an Instagram Live on our profile ( – FYI: in Italian – where we will further discuss we will further explore women's publishing, the bitterness of love and the hope of finding it again to communicate it to one’s readers.