The fake interviews of Tommaso Debenedetti

The fake interviews of Tommaso DebenedettiJudith Thurman wrote an article for The New Yorker about the freelance journalist Tommaso Debenedetti, based in Rome, who likely fabricated his interviews with authors and intellectuals, since most of the interviewees contacted said they had never heard of him. She spoke to him on the phone.

"I then read the list of other writers who had denied or questioned his conversations with them. In every case, Debenedetti asserted that he had invented nothing. When I asked if he could produce any recordings or notes from his interviews, he laughed and, admitting that it sounded like a "tired" excuse, told me that he had lost the tapes in some cases, and in others had "thrown them away.""

The interviewees included Philip Roth, John Grisham, Gore Vidal, Toni Morrison, Gunter Grass, Nadine Gordimer, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, Herta Muller, A. B. Yehoshua, Scott Turow, V. S. Naipaul, Jose Saramago, J. M. Coetzee, Wilbur Smith, Meir Shalev, Amos Oz, Elie Wiesel, and Shirin Ebadi.

What was Debenedetti’s motive? It was likely not financial, since many of the publications paid little. It may be "megalomania," said one editor. Others have speculated he wanted to give a political slant to the interviews, to create propaganda to support Italy’s current Berlusconi government.

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