Roberto Saviano. Beauty: his writing , literature. Hell: the life he has been forced to live since he published Gomorrah (Gomorra in Italian) in 2006. Beauty and Hell (La bellezza e l'inferno) is the title of his latest published book I've just finished reading.

When he wrote and got  his first book published ,  he couldn’t imagine that his life and the lives of his dear would change forever. They have become hell. He lives under constant police escort since several godfathers he mentions in his book want him  dead. His family had to move and change their identities. Do you think his people living in Campania, Naples and areas nearby, consider him a hero? Not at all. He has been emarginated and left alone, attacked and offended with awful “graffiti” on the walls. They consider him mad, not a hero. Not that he considers himself as such. He is still shocked for the consequences that his thirst for justice, freedom and truth has brought to him.
I think he has been very brave, starting at only 26, to do what he has done so far: in his writings, articles and books he employs prose and news-reporting style to narrate the story of the Camorra (a powerful Neapolitan mafia-like organization), exposing its territory and business connections. He denounced the underworld which, like a cancer,  corrodes our beautiful country and consequently  his life has changed forever.
 I felt guilty since I really couldn’t cope with his Gomorrah. Millions of people read it but I couldn’t go beyond the first pages. Too harsh, too violent, too shocking. The same was with the movie. I just saw some scenes. But it was not fair, I thought. Such a man, one should be proud of, deserves more from me...I have to read one of his books, not only listen to him in his rare touching TV appearances. And I did it. “La Bellezza e L’Inferno” is a collection of articles and writings not only dealing with the Camorra but especially with Saviano’s relationship with writing, the beauty in his life, and the description of his personal hell. His prose is reallly involving, he knows how to use words and this is the reason why his words have attracted so many readers and this is also why all the attention to his words infuriated the godfathers so much that Saviano is to them a “dead man walking”. This young man believes in the power of the words and he is right. Maybe they can’t change the reaility or the entire world but they can touch the most hidden corners of the human mind and soul.

There are so many beautiful pages and thoughts in this book! I’m sorry you can’t enjoy them since it hasn’t been translated yet. Gomorrah was and it was quite successful in the USA. (Read this review  by Rachel Donadio in the New York Times)

Let’s see if , with my poor translation, I may convey to you some of his beauty (from the Preface)

The danger of reading

Writing in these years has given me the possibility to exist. Articles and reports. Stories and editorials. Work that,  to me,  hasn't simply been work. It coincided with life itself. If someone hoped that living in such a difficult situation might induce me to hide my words, they were wrong. I didn't hide them, I didn't lose them. But this has made it a fight, a daily fight, a silent punch-up fighting, like a shadow fight. To write, not to renounce my words, has meant not to lose myself. Not to surrender. Not to despair. ( ...)
The title of this book means a simple thing. It just wants to remind that , on one hand , we have freedom and beauty, necessary for those who write and live; on the other hand, their opposite, their negation: the hell which always seem to prevail.
To close this preface,  Saviano quotes Giovanni Falcone who said that "like any human phenomenon mafia too must get to an end". And, finally, he quotes Albert Camus: "But Hell has only one time, then one day Life starts over ".
Then a series of beautiful writings and articles follows in which Saviano tells us about Miriam Makeba, Lionel Messi, Enzo Biagi, Peppino Impastato  's mother, Joe Pistone or the real Donnie Brasco, Ana Politkovskaja; of his experience at Cannes Festival where the movie Gomorrah was acclaimed; of his being invited at the Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize Ceremony with Salman Rushdie; about his faith in the power of words. Words that can unhinge reality, oppose any form of power, witness the certainty that the truth exists, despite everything.

Saviano's Gomorrah reviewed in The Times and in The Guardian

       I read this book in the "Wish I'd read that Challenge 2010"
 hosted at The Royal Reviews. This is my second task.


lunarossa said...

A very brave man. A great writer as all what he writes his true. Chilling but true. I just hope nothing happens to him. Hope you're feeling better. Ciao. A.

Maria Grazia said...

Italy - and the world - would be much better places if we had more men like him. Unfortunately ... and I'll stop here, A. You know what happens here, though you live up there in York. I'm better. Little by little I'm recovering stregth and the use of my left - luckily left! - arm. Thanks for being so kind. Take care. MG