“I am particularly proud of this book,” says Sergio Kokis. If this is my last, it’s going to be a touchstone in that I believe it’s an essential book and the fruit of all the others that have been made before. The only wish of the 76-year-old author? that Cartoonist, his 27e novel, enriches the reader by leading him to ask questions about his morals and his own life.
Sergio Kokis was born in Brazil and has traveled the world. He has, among other things, studied philosophy and psychology, and he worked as a psychologist. At the same time, painting has always been part of his life. Just like literature.
“At the age of 50, I decided to write a book recounting my walks in the world, relates the one who has since taken the habit of writing to rest his body from painting (he painted on very large canvases). From that day on, I developed a taste for writing. It has always been a pleasure to write for me. “
Years have passed and novels have piled up for the man who discovered reading during the eight years spent in a Brazilian reformatory (aged 9 to 17). Where he entered his first library, a place filled with these books that would allow him to escape and give meaning to his life.
No wonder this new novel, which he describes as the fruit of a lifetime of reading, experiencing and observing his fellow human beings, features a character discovering literature in an orphanage, then finding himself prisoner, during several years in a Soviet labor camp.
“All my life, I have collected and read books and documents on the lives of people confined in prisons or concentration camps,” says the one who admits to spending his entire days reading since the pandemic. As I myself was institutionalized in my childhood, life within the walls has always had an attraction for me. I saw how my comrades reacted differently: some suffered, others found it a place of freedom, because they came from much more difficult family situations. All of this has left me very curious all my life. “
The theme of the oppressed man has always interested the multidisciplinary artist. If he has often used it in painting, it is the first time that the writer has approached it so extensively in a novel.
“It is a work that I had matured for a long time. I know the art of drawing and painting well. I wanted to put in writing some thoughts on painting and the passion that can be exercised when life is very easy, certainly, but which proves even more powerful when it has to be exercised in difficult, critical and opposite situations. at his work. “
If the plot of Designer takes place in a camp in Siberia is that the author wanted to tell the story of a man who must continue to create, despite everything.
“The idea was not to tell about the concentration camps, but [l’histoire] of a man and a few women […] caught in a situation, and how they’re going to have to cope. How everyone is going, in their own way, to try to survive, because for them, life is important. ”
By recounting the destiny of this painter accused of ideological crime and sent for six years to a concentration camp (where he will be entrusted with the illustration of fauna and flora), the author pays homage to the novels which have him. most affected in his life. Those dealing with creativity, work in a critical situation and the rediscovered freedom to which we give meaning through the duty to tell, the passion for creation and art.
The contrast between the ugliness of the camps and the beauty of the painting is the source of many reflections on respect for human beings, morals and tenderness, which can be created even in extreme situations. “Fundamental themes for human existence”.
It is “a novel filled with hope during a crisis” that the author offers in the midst of a pandemic. A work in the news yet written long before the arrival of COVID-19. A coincidence which is not really a coincidence for the writer who has always kept abreast of the various serious events taking place around the world.
“I am a man at the end of my life. I have spent my life scanning the world, always on the lookout for other existential situations than mine. These kinds of problems existed even before the epidemic. I wanted to write about a humanity that allows us to continue to survive, humanity despite the dehumanization around. It is a valuable moral lesson. Morality is the only thing we have left to respect our fellow man. “