The Discovery of Dawn
Walter Veltroni, . . Rizzoli, $24.95 (140pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-3109-8
And it's actually pretty bravissimo.
The captivating first novel by Italian politician Veltroni (a former member of parliament, mayor of Rome and candidate for prime minister) starts slowly but hardens into a touching, absorbing story about a man who reclaims his past. Giovanni Astengo keeps his life at arm's length: the father of a 12-year-old girl with Down syndrome, Stella, and a forlorn, world-weary 20-year-old, Lorenzo, Giovanni is also still searching for his own lost father, who vanished during a period of political terrorism in 1977. Revisiting the country house his parents used to frequent, Giovanni discovers there that he can call his 13-year-old self (on the eve of his father's disappearance, no less) by dialing his old phone number. Over the phone, Giovanni tries to change the future by having his younger self look for clues about his father's disappearance. There are fascinating intellectual tenets coursing through Veltroni's work, and the bond that forms between the two Giovannis is beautifully realized, as is the clarity that the older Giovanni finally achieves.
Reviewed on: 06/30/2008