“This novel is a successful and mature example of littérature engagée, a bitterly funny story that one reads with pleasure...
“...Paolo di Paolo’s novel about the end of a regime, about the melancholy it leaves in the soul of those who have lived through it ... and about the desolation one feels the day after.” Antonio Tabucchi, la Repubblica
A son confronts his humiliated father, dismayed and angered by seeing him as he would never have wanted to see him. Italo Tramontana is 30 years old; he quietly realises that his “conscious life” began when Berlusconi “entered the arena.” That life is continuing 20 years later, still under the sign of the same Berlusconi. This is the reality for a whole generation, a realisation which is like a slap in the face for the youth of today, naturally morally superior by virtue only of their youth. Where were all those people who could have broken this chain? Where were the fathers, mainly? What were they doing back then? What did they carry on doing? We only really know what is happening now.
Italo’s father is a recently retired teacher who hits a student in the schoolyard with his car. What first sounded like an accident instead seems to be a deliberate act of violence against a boy who was always subjected to the professor’s hostility. Then an anonymous letter sent to his home states the professor bedded a young substitute teacher during a field trip. The doubts planted by these two events upset the family’s apparent stability, creating a crisis in the couple’s balance and the complex relationship between father and son. Within this clime of instability, Italo asks questions, searches for answers, and tries to live his affections beyond his own “personal archaeology” and his father’s humiliation. An incursion into fate – one that derails passive emotions – is needed to get the answers.
This is the first novel by a sensitive young scholar and critic, which tries to come to terms with Italy’s humiliation and defeat over the last 20 years.