Interview with Tiaré Maria Adelaide Totaro

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I am a lover of nature, beauty, and words, who was lucky enough to grow up in different cultural contexts and contrasting worlds, such as those of Italy and Africa.

Life has taught me, sometimes the hard way, that freedom consists in being able to detach oneself from social constructs, and only by moving within the worlds and contexts that grant us the lightness and passion for life that comes naturally to children are we able to find our path. I hope I can follow the right one, the one to the top of the mountain.

I studied Anthropology and Archaeology and then specialized in International Relations in Cape Town, South Africa. I worked and lived in the United States and Italy until 2010 when I moved back to South Africa. I have worked in various fields and started doing translations in 2015. Words can make time and my soul fly, and I would like to continue translating in purely literal contexts in the future. The most important thing is that words continue to flow through my life and through me.

One day, a friend told me she’d met a very interesting man, with an equally interesting project, which she believed I could participate in as a translator. I was surprised when I first spoke to Luigino over the phone (he was different from the person I expected from the book title), and struck by his simplicity and way of being, always cheerful and positive, and by his cultural knowledge and interest in great authors and characters. I was also fascinated by the genre of the book – a mix between self-development and graphic novel.

I have absolutely no inclination or experience with the visual arts, and I was impressed by his skill in graphics and drawing.

Often, while translating, I had to resort to his images to better understand how a concept should be explained, in addition to conversations with him, which sometimes left me with even more questions, because he is a deep thinker, much deeper than most.

At first, when I’d started translating the opening chapters, I realized I’d somehow “lost” one of the pivotal images of the book, from which all the commitment and motivation behind the book sprung: the bridge reflected in the raindrops seen from the tram window!

I don’t really know how it happened ... But it was lucky, because in finding it and observing it more carefully, I had to change my interpretation of the section that covered it, “seeing it anew” as the artist and author did.

Towards the end of the book, I was drawn into a much deeper world and level of self-knowledge than my own at present (because there’s always time to grow in this area!) and the work became more difficult. Regular discussions became necessary in terms of my own understanding of concepts and the concepts that Luigino actually wanted to express. I’m delighted to have completed this translation and I think everyone should read the book!

Winning the game of life means knowing oneself, knowing what makes us happy, beyond imposed happiness. Understanding why we get up in the morning and live, smile. But it also means understanding the activities/moments which make us feel in communion with the universe, with the world, our hearts bursting with concepts and joy that we wish to share with everyone because we feel the beauty of everything within us. These are very different moments for each of us, inspired by travel, creativity. I want to win the game of life, and although everyday routine often draws me away from that feeling of being saturated with ideas, in a flow state, I must and we must remember that it’s possible to win, as Luigino did.

I currently live in Paarl, a picturesque town located in a wine-growing valley 80km from Cape Town with my husband, our 2 children, and their grandparents. I am winning with the love I have in my heart for the people and things around me.

I would like to pursue a Master’s degree in Anthropology focusing on the conceptualization of Africa in the mind of the Western world, and the fascination exerted by this conceptualization, with all the stereotypes it entails. I would like to complete a yoga teaching course for adults, having done one for children, and continue to translate literary texts because they contain beautiful stories, which I am allowed to “enter” into in a way not granted to the reader, and I consider this a great privilege.

Tiaré Maria Adelaide Totaro