I'll Steal You Away

Niccolo Ammaniti, Author, Jonathan Hunt, Translator , trans. from the Italian by Jonathan Hunt. Canongate $23 (405p) ISBN 978-1-84195-824-8

Ammaniti, author of novel-turned-film I'm Not Scared (2003), offers another tale of smalltown southern Italy, this time juxtaposing the growing pains of 12-year-old Pietro Moroni, a "small for his age" kid frequently targeted by bullies, with the romantic prowling of Graziano Biglia, a washed-up flamenco guitarist who returns to his hometown after having his heart broken by a stripper. The novel, narrated in a quasi call-and-response ("His life is sex, drugs and... flamenco. But what's wrong with that? Sure, many people would hate a life like mine. Drifting. Rootless. But I like it") feels awkward at first, but once the reader settles in, Hunt's translation adds welcome depth to seemingly simple folk: Pietro, hungry for social acceptance, gets tricked into vandalizing his school and must suffer the consequences; Graziano, forever scheming an entrée to the big time, loves and leaves skittish schoolteacher Flora Palmieri. Flora, burdened with caring for her sick mother and ill-equipped to deal with the intense fallout from her relationship with Graziano, quickly falls apart once her seducer disappears. Chilling and intimate, Ammaniti's work brings life to a deceptively quiet town and its wealth of eclectic and unsettling residents. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 05/29/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Paperback - 405 pages - 978-1-84195-945-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-5226-3513-0
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