To surfers, surf is not a sport. Nighter it is a lifestyle. To surfers, surf is life and simultaneously a way to find themselves. “Barbarian Days” exactly tells the story of the author’s life through the evolution of his passion, which he follows all around the world. It is a love story between the author and surfing and like all the best love stories, it changes its shapes and expressions during the different life stages, but it never fades.
The author and main character is William Finnegan, 65 years old, and for more than 30 journalist and reporter for The New Yorker. It dealt whit issues like foreign policy, wars, racism and poverty. He wrote five books. But he gained the highest award publishing his sports autobiography. For the first time a book about surfing awards the Pulitzer and ranks as best seller in the USA market. “If we’re talking about books” says Finnegan in an interview “surfing is tiny, considering how many people surf and care deeply about it. But surfing remains a subculture, I’m glad to say, rich in arcana, hard to explain to outsiders”. The surf subculture anyway fascinates the mainstream audience, maybe that is the reason why Amazon Studios optioned the movie rights of “Barbarian Days”.
“Barbarian Days” covers Mr. Finnegan’s surfing life from his childhood in California and then Hawaii, where his family moved. (His father produced the TV series “Hawaii Five-0.”). Here he experiences the racial tensions between native Hawaiians and white Americans. The book follows the author into adulthood, describing the route of a life-travel looking for perfect waves which brings him to South Pacific islands, Australia, South Africa, Indonesia until he came back to the U.S and established in NY.
From the book emerges the author’s need to follow his passion in times and spaces, even if it requires to re-interpret it and re-interpret himself. The wondering of his youth evolves into a new life balance, between surfing, working and family and also with a more relaxed ad eased way of traveling. What stays the same, is the stoke coming from each wave surfed.
“What are they (surfers) doing this for?” It is asked in the book “(because) It’s just pure. You’re alone. That wave is so much bigger and stronger than you. You’re always outnumbered. They always can crush you. And yet you’re going to accept that and turn it into a little, brief, meaningless art form.”