cover image I Hadn’t Understood

I Hadn’t Understood

Diego De Silva, trans. from the Italian by Antony Shugaar. Europa, $15 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-60945-065-6

Meet Vincenzo Malinconico, “master of the improvisational jazz of complications” (as in creating, rather than controlling, them). He’s sleeping with his ex-wife, has two kids he barely communicates with, a law practice set on low simmer, and a tendency toward digressions. He confesses to an inability to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end, and, in fact, this one is all middle. But then again, so is most of life, and Vincenzo, whose last name in Italian means “melancholy,” is an amiable, observant, and often funny guide to the contradictions and confusions of life’s long mid-section. The fact that this is all happening in Naples adds interest; he takes a court-appointed case that could lead to real work, for a client involved with the Camorra, the Neapolitan Mafia. Will he be killed if he takes the job? If he doesn’t? When his clients provide him with a stalker/bodyguard/guardian angel, how should he feel? And what about Alessandra Persiana, the hottest lawyer in the clubby, corruption-riddled Neapolitan courthouse? Vincenzo may, as he says, “lack conclusions,” but as he grapples with alternating disasters and even more bewildering strokes of luck, he’s a likable everyman—relatable, but with his own fully human specificity. (Mar. 8)