The following is from Veronica Raimo's Lost on Me . Raimo is the author of four novels, the most recent of which, Lost On Me (Niente di Vero) was shortlisted for the Premio Strega Prize and won the Strega Off Prize, the Strega Giovani Prize and the Viareggio Rèpaci Prize. Her 2019 novel The Girl at the Door (Miden) was called “darkly amusing… profoundly feminist” by Jezebel and “tight and provocative” by Salon. Her stories have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, here and abroad . My brother and I both became writers. I don't know what he answers when people ask him why that is. I say it's thanks to all the boredom our parents imparted to us. While my mother had high anxiety, my father had a subtler form of paranoia. His chemistry studies made him see the world as a petri dish of harmful substances we constantly needed to protect ourselves from. This meant leaving the house as little as possible, suffocating within four walls—or, in our case, a hundred. I was eight at the time of the nuclear reactor meltdown in Chernobyl. Even when the emergency seemed to be over, my family continued to exist in a postapocalyptic film scenario, pretending we lived not in a relatively well-off city in the Western world, but in a sci-fi Zone X with high levels of contamination. In every respectable catastrophe story, when the world's been infected, all that matters is preserving one's blood ties: the family. And so for three years my father didn't let us eat fruits, vegetables, or eggs, or drink milk, or go out to restaurants, or buy pizza from street vendors. The only foods allowed were canned goods dated before April 26, 1986. It wasn't easy to follow this protocol, but I must confess that it made things interesting, made me feel like a heroine living in a state of quarantine invisible to the rest of the world. Staying entrenched in our secure apartment, eating tuna and beans like the pioneers, coming up with outlandish excuses to turn down a snack when studying […]
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