Monday, March 17, 2008

Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano, I'll Steal You Away by Niccolo Ammaniti

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.


Los Angelista said...

The thought of being caught in some sort of mafia crossfire is pretty scary. But you've braved the mean streets of the movie industry. How much more cut throat can it get?

erin said...

We've discussed Camorra a lot in class and read some excerpts from the book. Very interesting. I definitely want to read it someday. Also, I love the film "Non Ho Paura" - so I'm sure I'd like your recommendation too!

See you in Italy soon!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

los angelista - ha. Hollywood is a trip. The way folks act blows my mind.

As I read the book I thought about the crazy stuff going on in Harbor City and that poor 13 year-old who was killed in Echo Park while pick lemons. The gang violence here feels like it's def. on the upswing.

Erin - See you next month in Florence.

It felt weird to type that sentence.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

They both sound like interesting books. I've been reading too many mysteries - I need something meatier, I think.

When is the move?

Linda said...

I've been meaning to read the Saviano book for a while now. I think it would be depressing. He's got an interesting new site too (

Oh, I've tagged you for a meme. Hope you have the time.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

jen - March 31st.

linda - thanks for the link. I just left a comment on your blog.

Tina said...

I was supposed to go to a book presentation for the first book in 2006 in Perugia, and it got cancelled at the last minute because he had to suddenly hide. Crazy stuff.

The other book - I know it as "Ti Prendo e Ti Porto Via" - I didn't get to finish it, must do that. I really liked it.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

tina - I wonder if he could ever come out of hiding. Scary.

mental mosaic said...

Thanks for the Saviano review. Man, I need to read that book asap, considering I'm living in Naples.

Also, did you see the translation that Paolo did over at his blog, "Crazy Like Whoa"? It's a recent interview Saviano did with the real Donnie Brasco.

I'd link to it, but blogger won't let me put html in here. "Crazy Like Whoa" is on my blogroll, though. It's his most recent entry, so it's easy to find.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

mental mosaic - thanks for the heads up. I will go to your blog roll and check it out.