cover image Malacqua


Nicola Pugliese, trans. from the Italian by Shaun Whiteside. And Other Stories, $15.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-911508-06-9

Originally published in 1977 and having since gone out of print, Pugliese’s first and only novel is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a city on the brink of disaster. Four days of rain have left Naples flooded and its residents in various degrees of despair, and as lives begin to be claimed by sinkholes and collapsing buildings, the whole city becomes consumed by a collective sense of dread. Mysterious portents abound—strange yet identical dolls are discovered at the various disaster sites, mournful voices echo through the streets from an abandoned castle above the city, and all five-lire coins begin to play music that can be heard only by little girls—which contribute to a general expectation that an extraordinary event is about to take place. Alternating between the various perspectives of citizens at the edge of personal and spiritual revelation and suffering the effects of the relentless rains, the novel offers a foreboding and unsettling critique of Neapolitan culture. The sweeping conclusion is a beautiful and haunting foray into the search for meaning in a meaningless world. (Nov.)