The Camorra is an elaborate, international system dealing in drugs, high fashion, construction, and toxic waste, and its influence has entirely transformed life in Campania, the province surrounding Naples. Since seeing his first murder victim, at thirteen, Roberto Saviano has watched the changes in his home city. For Gomorrah , he disappeared into the Camorra and witnessed up close the drug cartel's audacious, sophisticated, and far-reaching corruption that has paralyzed his home city and introduced the world to a new breed of organized crime. Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App.
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There is no Renaissance art, no leisurely lunches or bustling piazzas, no world-class design, no achingly beautiful landscapes. Instead, we find an alien land of doped-up child soldiers, gun-toting clan women, illegal Chinese immigrants, sweatshops, drug smuggling, garbage and cement. This is Campania, the region whose capital is Naples and pulsing heart the Camorra, or Neapolitan mafia.
The dead do not leave this world peaceably. A young priest who dared speak out is murdered and posthumously accused of cavorting with whores.
It started a national conversation, but also won its year-old first-time author uglier accolades: death threats and a constant police escort. He now lives in hiding. The stakes are high. Part economic analysis, part social history, part cri de coeur , this crushing testimonial is the most important book to come out of Italy in years. He tugged a loose thread in the fabric of Italian bourgeois respectability and kept pulling until nothing was left.
Armed with a university degree in philosophy, Saviano has worked for an anti-Mafia watchdog group and written articles for leading Italian publications. They sell toxic waste, hide purloined weapons in former military barracks in Eastern Europe, make deals with South American and Nigerian drug cartels, siphon off European Union farm subsidies and launder money through diamonds and by setting up generally legal fronts like clothing stores, bars and tourism outfits all over Europe.
They stay connected through cellphones and text messages. When one clan boss is arrested, kids all over Secondigliano, a Camorra stronghold north of Naples, download his image onto their cellphone screen savers. Bosses follow their murders on television. Killing a human being became the equivalent of manufacturing something.
The drug wars continue to this day. When they flared up early in , hundreds of journalists came from around the world. Local clan members offered to tell journalists their stories in exchange for cash, Saviano writes, while policemen made their plainclothes colleagues pose as drug pushers to satisfy the horde of photographers. Few got the real story. How this could exist in democratic Europe is an excellent question for political theorists. In its own idea of itself, Naples has always defied ideology; it is a city governed by realpolitik, where power is the native language and rule of law a mere dialect.
The Camorra and the state feed off each other. Since , an estimated three million tons of waste have been illegally dumped in Campania. She stumbles too often over colloquialisms and crucial words. Far more problematic, though, is the difficulty in pinning this book down. Some anecdotes are suspiciously perfect — the tailor who quits his job after seeing Angelina Jolie on television at the Oscars wearing a white suit he made in a Camorra sweatshop; the man who loves his AK so much he makes a pilgrimage to Russia to visit its creator, Mikhail Kalashnikov.
Did the author change any names? These are not small matters, and should have been disclosed. I could not get this brave book out of my head. Book Review Underworld. Home Page World U.
There is no Renaissance art, no leisurely lunches or bustling piazzas, no world-class design, no achingly beautiful landscapes. Instead, we find an alien land of doped-up child soldiers, gun-toting clan women, illegal Chinese immigrants, sweatshops, drug smuggling, garbage and cement. This is Campania, the region whose capital is Naples and pulsing heart the Camorra, or Neapolitan mafia. The dead do not leave this world peaceably. A young priest who dared speak out is murdered and posthumously accused of cavorting with whores. It started a national conversation, but also won its year-old first-time author uglier accolades: death threats and a constant police escort. He now lives in hiding.
'Gomorrah' author Roberto Saviano: How Mafia children become stone-cold killers
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The book was adapted for the big screen in and for TV in How did you get the idea for this novel? It was such a powerful news story : children who suddenly became mafia leaders. Mafias have always employed muschilli — little mosquitoes — in minor roles. But for a few years, in Naples, kids aged between 10 and 19 were in charge: they decided the drug deals, the money laundering, the executions… I wanted to find out more. Did you find some positive aspects in these characters? Of course — these kids are highly talented.
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