Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Roberto Saviano: "Gomorrah" doesn't defame Napoli

Roberto Saviano is a courageous Italian journalist whose groundbreaking book on organized crime in Napoli (Naples) Italy and its international reach has made him, in the words of Sir Salman Rushdie "in greater danger than [Mr. Rushdie] ever was."

Saviano's book (also adapted into a film), which seems at the forefront of the New Italian Epic (NIE) literary movement, has done more than ruffle feathers or upset the apple cart - it has made him a target of organized crime, requiring him to live under round-the-clock security protection.

Today, Saviano answered accusations that his book had defamed Napoli by its portrayal of the reach of organized crime into everyday life, often with devastating and fatal effects. Based on my doggerel translation of a section of the online interview, Saviano indicates that Gomorrah was an attempt to look at crime internationally through the lens of his hometown. The worst part is to hear that at I defamed Napoli with my book ', says Saviano. 'In reality' the book looks at the world through Naples. His book is 'a form of resistance, of testimony that comes from knowing that you can fight crime'. According to Saviano, the point is that there is a fundamental need to speak out and fight against crime because. Crime can't be accepted just because it exists."

The New Italian Epic is a literary movement in Italy that seems to dig much deeper than America's "New Journalism" of the 70s, dealing with issues of politics, ethics, more profound social issues and conditions with life and death implications, such as organized crime, compared to the largely cultural studies of Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese (although the late Norman Mailer, as always, remains an exception).

Roberto Saviano has taken a profound step in challenging organized crime which, he suggests, is not just deeply rooted in his home town, but which has spread its influence around the world, including the highest most visible peaks of celebrity, wealth and media culture.

--Brooklyn Beat
Article (via Yahoo - Italia)from Italian news service ANSA here:


Wikipedia on Roberto Saviano: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberto_Saviano

A reflection on "Gomorrah" in the context of the New Italian Epic [The Wu Ming Foundation]:


  1. I'm glad to see you are following this important issue and Saviano, a great man. I was in Naples in 2007 and read Gomorra right afterwards. It propelled me to write an article I posted at the following address:http://home.mindspring.com/~ed.farrell/index.html

    Have you seen the film yet? It is excellent. Best wishes, EJFNYC

  2. Hi Ed -
    I was in Napoli and Roma in Dec 2008 - January 2009. I saw Gomorra shortly afterwards (I bought Saviano's book in the Anglo-American bookstore near Piazza di Spagna in Rome). I had a visceral response to the book, based on our trip to the glorious chaos of Naples...

    I heard Rushdie speak in March 09 and he specifically commented on the dangers faced by Saviano.

    I find the NIE literary movement fascinating and without real comparison in the US.

    Thank you for your post!

  3. I guess you missed Saviano in New York. He was brought by PEN World Voices and spoke at NYU and at Scandinavia House, with many escorts and FBI agents around. I heard him again at a film festival at USC in LA last October. I don't know other authors in NIE but I'll look into it.


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