The Italian author and journalist Oriana Fallaci is proving to be as controversial in death as she was in life.
On Tuesday it emerged that her sister, Paola Fallaci, had asked prosecutors to investigate a claim that the signature on the writer’s will was forged — pitting her against her own son, the writer’s nephew. The will left Oriana Fallaci’s valuable book rights and control of her literary estate to nephew Edoardo Perazzi, cutting out his mother and his brother, Antonio.
Oriana Fallaci, who died in September 2006, won fame as a newspaper interviewer renowned for her shock tactics and vivid prose. In one of her most celebrated encounters, shortly after the Iranian revolution, she called the Ayatollah Khomeini a tyrant and tore off the chador she had been asked to wear to their meeting.
In later years, Fallaci became a divisive figure, railing against immigration — particularly Islamic immigration — which she believed was transforming Europe and laying the basis for a Muslim fundamentalist takeover of society.
Paola Fallaci’s lawyer, Francesco Brizzi, said he and his client had formed doubts about the authenticity of her sister’s signature the moment they saw it.
“Then we ordered an expert’s report on the will and the result of the examination speaks of forgery of the signature,” he said.
Brizzi added that the submission to the prosecutors’ office did not specify who might have been responsible for the alleged falsification. In an interview with the Tg.com news Web site, Edoardo Perazzi countered the claims.
“The will is definitely Oriana’s because it was signed in the US in front of witnesses, lawyers and a court. I find all this absurd,” he said.
Perazzi said relations with his mother had been strained for some time, but “I admit I did not imagine they could get to this point.”
The contested will was signed 25 days before the writer died in her native Florence. She published 16 books in her lifetime. Perazzi arranged for her final work, Un Cappello Pieno di Ciliegie (A Hat Full of Cherries), to be published posthumously.
Brizzi said his client was “not motivated by the money,” but by “the defense of Oriana’s image — the defence of her moral and cultural legacy.”
Oriana Fallaci was noted for her courage as well as her fiery temperament. In 1968, she was shot three times and left for dead by Mexican security forces during the Tlatelolco massacre of protesters 10 days before the Mexico City Olympics. She complained about then-Cuban president Fidel Castro’s body odor during an interview and threw her microphone at Muhammad Ali’s face when he burped in answer to a question.
In 1972, then-US national security advisor Henry Kissinger called Fallaci’s revealing interview with him the “most disastrous conversation” he ever had with the press.
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