cover image Everything Calls for Salvation

Everything Calls for Salvation

Daniele Mencarelli, trans. from the Italian by Wendy Wheatley. Europa, $22 (176p) ISBN 978-1-60945-806-5

A young Italian man is involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward in Mencarelli’s evocative work of autofiction, his English-language debut. In June 1994, 20-year-old Daniele Mencarelli wakes up in a hospital bed. He attacked his father the night before during a psychotic break and has been committed for seven days. The doctors­­—one of whom Daniele dislikes immediately, though another seems genuinely compassionate­­—promise a diagnosis and treatment plan for him despite his long history of seeking help but seeing few results. His fellow patients include Mario, a calm older man, catatonic Alessandro, and the queer and flamboyant Gianluca. The days crawl by, with disappointing food, sweltering heat, and visits from patients’ family members (some more supportive than others). Meanwhile, gruff behavior by nurses and forgetful doctors undercut any therapeutic aspects of Daniele’s time in the hospital, and as his days there wind down, unexpected crises reshape his experience. Mencarelli captures Daniele’s muddled emotional state—a blend of shame, confusion, and chafing at restrictions—in powerful, compact scenes. With its bracing view of the hero’s interior world, this meditative novel viscerally excoriates the failings of his treatment. (Jan.)