cover image We Want Everything

We Want Everything

Nanni Balestrini, trans. from the Italian by Matt Holden. Verso (PRH, dist.), $26.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-78478-368-6

First published in Italy in 1971, and now available for the first time for U.S. readers, this novel unveils a fictionalized version of Italy’s historic “hot autumn” of 1969, when workers around the nation protested for better working conditions and wages. Balestrini (Tristano) splits his story into two parts, with each narrated by the same unnamed young man from southern Italy. The first part is both wry and charming as the narrator bumbles from one job to the next, frequently complaining with a crass, blunt mouth about various inadequacies that prevent him from employment bliss. “Everything had a price,” he claims, and he judges worth on material objects. Before long, he flees to the north, eventually finding work assembling automobiles at a Fiat plant in Turin. After feigning injury to exploit the company’s medical leave program, he helps organize a massive strike for non-union workers against the company, arguing for better benefits. The second part of the novel follows the strike closely, and the narrator’s voice transitions from jocular bluntness into one of war reporter, with brief bursts of information on groups and departments joining in “the struggle” for equality. This compelling novel works well as both historic relic and parallel to many contemporary workplace conflicts. (June)