Monday, March 17, 2008
GOMORRAH by Roberto Saviano - Perhaps I should not have read this book before moving to Italy. I kid. Saviano is under police protection after his book on the Naples' mafia the Camorra, became a best seller in Italy and in Europe. The translated English version came out earlier this year. At times the book does get bogged down and it's hard to follow which criminal is with which crew. He writes a little about the Siclian mob, the Calabrian mob (the 'Ndrangheta), and how they interact with each other.
Saviano is a native of Naples and you can sense his rage at what is going on in the city he loves. The reach of the Camorra is far and wide. The chapter on Chinese goods, manufacturers and the black market is deep. I wish the tourists who purchase fake Prada, Gucci and what not from the street vendors could read this book first and see where their money is going. The toxic waste and garbage problem is discussed at length. The Campania region has the highest murder rate in all of Europe thanks to "the System". Innocent people do get caught in the middle of warring clans. Non-corrupt officials are murdered no problem.
I'LL STEAL YOU AWAY by Niccolò Ammaniti. My friend Robin gave me this book. I'm glad it was the translated version. I'm not ready to read Italian at this level yet. This book by the author of I'M NOT SCARED, was sad but beautifully written. Pierto is a small 12-year old who is always being bullied. He is best friends with the richest and prettiest girl in their very small southern village. His story connects and intersects with Graziano's, an aging playboy who used to be a big fish in a small pond. Granziano moves to Rome with a show girl. He feels out of his element, nobody is checking for him in Rome. He's a joke.
He returns home to his friends and falls for the local teacher, Flora. This teacher has always had a soft spot for Pierto and is disappointed when her student takes part in a prank (he was bullied into it) that has severe reprecussions for everyone. I was really rooting for Pierto and Flora. Ammaniti cares deeply for his imperfect characters. So did I and I wished things had worked out differently for them.