The Paris Review

The Hipster Pyramid: An Interview with Francesco Pacifico

Francesco Pacifico. Photo: Riccardo Musacchio and Flavio Ianniello

The last time I interviewed Francesco Pacifico for The Paris Review Daily was back in 2013, when he published The Story of My Purity. That novel, whose slacker narrator was unusually both Catholic and celibate, was an examination of a certain hipster atmosphere—and in his new novel, Class, Pacifico continues his malicious analysis of that global condition. Class tells the story of an Italian couple in New York, Lorenzo and Ludovica, and the fresco they inhabit: filmmakers, literary scouts, total wastrels …

The more I thought about this novel and its dark concerns, I began to realize how Pacifico’s look so beautifully matches his writing’s contradictions. The first time you meet him, with his beard and his smile, you have this sense of a charming bohemian happiness, a man never far from recreational drugs. But as I have come to know him, I’ve learned that his beard is a disguise: it might look like the absolute genial hipster accoutrement, but really it’s the beard of a savage second-century prophet. And in his novels, too, the apparently comical surface will suddenly rupture, revealing its ethical precision, its melancholy soul.

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