di Erika Scafuro
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan is a literary case that puts the spotlight on surfing also for winning the Pulitzer Prize in the biography category in 2016.
William Finnegan, born in 1952 in New York and grown between California and Hawaii, is a writer and reporter with a great passion for surf.
Barbarian Days is a collection of his greatest experiences as a surfer around the world, searching for the best wave to ride. Somehow Barbarian Days is a bildungsroman in which Finnegan performs a inner and adventurous journey, maintaining himself with occasional jobs, through surfing exploration around the world.
In the spring of 1978 he leaves Los Angeles to face the winter he was looking for, the time of the year where the best waves are produced thanks to the storms. Finnegan needed a buddy who found in Bryan Di Salvatore, known years earlier in California. So they left to explore the southern Pacific in search of waves and in their first destination, Fiji, they discover Tavarua island.
“Scaled up, the mechanical regularity of the speeding hook gained soul, its roaring and bright belly and that kind of vaulted ceiling were a continuous miracle, with the drawings and ribs on the surface and the power of the wall, now full of visible and delicate details, each wave suffused with an unparalleled splendor”, is this the description of Tavarua left wave, the best wave they’ve ever surfed. At the time this wave was known by very few people that Finnegan and Di Salvatore could really count them on one hand.
But what about Kirra, a legendary wave full of tubes which they find in the homonym seaside town of Queensland, in Australia.
Then they come to Asia, in Bali, where in the Bukit peninsula they ride the wave of Uluwatu. “The wave that had stolen my heart was an overwhelming and already famous left that is called Uluwatu…it gave out giant waves and on the best days, with a slight land breeze, the long gold blue walls did something I had never seen anywhere else”.
The search of the perfect wave leads Finnegan also to the island of Sumatra, close to the village of Lagundri. He finds an extraordinary grace in the wave of Nias.
After having also reached South Africa and having stayed a long time in Cape Town, Finnegan come back to the United States.
Reading Barbarian Days is a journey through the best waves that Finnegan had the good luck to ride, some even before they became internationally famous. The power of this book is to have reached so many readers and to have introduced them to the world of surfing. It is the dream of all those who, at least once in their life, thought to give up everything and go around the world in search of the best waves.