Io non ho paura

‘Ammaniti’s depiction of his adult characters’ combination of family loyalty and indifference to those outside the clan recalls Scott’s treatment of the Highlanders in Waverly and, especially, Rob Roy.’ The Scotsman

This week I read in the metro Je n’ai pas peur, a French translation of the novel Io non ho paura (I am not scared) by the Italian writer Niccolò Ammaniti. I did not know about this book, but one of my Italian friends and colleagues with whom I discuss more about books, movies and the meaning of life than about Statistics gave it to me on Monday. It is a moving and gripping story told by a nine-year old, Michele (that often sounds older and more mature than that), about discovering his parents’ involvement into a seedy kidnapping of another kid of his age. The story is told in simple and terse sentences, with vivid images of the dry countryside around (in what could be Puglia), of friendship and fights with the other kids in the village, of frights about [imaginary] monsters and then about adults that never are entirely monstrous… The novel is not realistic in that all characters are somehow caricatural, including Michele, and that the kidnapping plot (involving every adult in the village) is unbelievable, but its strong impressionism more than makes for this, with intensely real rendering of running in wheat fields, falling in the dirt, fighting the heat at night…

‘Ammaniti’s depiction of his adult characters’ combination of family loyalty and indifference to those outside the clan recalls Scott’s treatment of the Highlanders in Waverly and, especially, Rob Roy

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