The Communist

Guido Morselli, trans. from the Italian by Frederika Randall. New York Review Books, $16.95 trade paper (344p) ISBN 978-1-68137-078-1
A Communist’s loyalty to the cause deteriorates in Morselli’s rich and engrossing novel. In 1958, sent to Parliament in Rome as a representative of the Italian Communist Party, Walter Ferranini begins to question his beliefs. Son of an anarchist turned railway engineer, Ferranini grew up in the Reggio region of Italy in the 1920s, worshipping Sacco and Vanzetti and passionately studying biology. His father’s early death ended his formal education and turned him into a laborer, and his subsequent involvement in the Spanish Civil War necessitated escape to the United States, where he became seduced by American life, “the sweetness and the rage” of it. The disintegration of his marriage to Italian-Irish-American Nancy, a budding nationalist, sent Ferranini back to Italy, where he became a dedicated and effective labor organizer, useful enough to the party to be elected to Parliament. But there, Ferranini—a rigorously honest autodidact—is shaken by a series of encounters, first with a younger man who thinks the Communists have become corrupt, and later with party officials who warn him to end his relationship with the married Nuccia. An article he writes about the inherent violence of labor, claiming that “biology certifies that there is no getting away from the struggle for life,” finally threatens to bring upon Ferranini the wrath of the party he has so devotedly served. Morselli’s characters debate Marx, but are never mere mouthpieces. His tale of a man whose certainties are destroyed will resonate with readers of any political persuasion. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/24/2017
Release date: 08/29/2017
Ebook - 978-1-68137-079-8
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