Monday, July 28, 2008

“Io Non Ho Paura” (I’m Not Scared) by Niccolò Ammaniti

Year of publication: 2001
Genre: thriller novel, adventure novel
Setting and time: Southern Italy, 1978
Themes: childhood, friendship, social and economical divide, kidnapping

About the author: Niccolò Ammaniti was born in Rome in 1966. In 1999 he wrote the novel Ti Prendo e Ti Porto Via while he was on holiday in Scotland. Notoriety came nonetheless with the novel Io Non Ho Paura, which was then made into a film directed by Gabriele Salvatores. He was the youngest author to be awarded the prestigious Viareggio Prize. Come Dio Comanda (2006), his third work, was awarded the Premio Strega, the most important literary prize in Italy.

Plot: Nine-year-old Michele lives in a rural village in the south of Italy. It is a very hot summer and Michele and his friends decide to explore the countryside on their bikes. While playing in an abandoned house, Michele discovers a boy of his own age hidden in a hole in the ground. He soon discovers that everybody in the village is involved in the kidnapping of the son of a wealthy man from the north of Italy.

Some thoughts: Although I had already seen the movie, I decided to read this book, mostly because it is a quick read (and I have been reminding myself to read more Italian authors for ages). Even though I already knew how the story ends, I really enjoyed the book. I loved the sense of an Italian childhood in the book: the explorations, the countryside and the scorching sun were all elements of my own childhood. It is remarkable that Michele and his friends all speak like real children and not with the fake adult language that other writers put in their mouths (no subjunctive in their dialogues, which would make some people cringe!). Because the narrator is a ten-year-old boy, there are no detailed insights on the economical and social divide between the north and the south of Italy or on the kidnapping of people in the 1970s. I came to see this as a way of not overcharging with grief the story of Michele and Filippo. For Michele ‘the North’ is simply a mirage, as unreal as death or paradise, and as far as Africa.
Ammaniti is without a doubt one of the most talented living writers in Italy!


  1. Ciao Stefania!

    Mi piace il tuo blog! I almost bought this book the other day to work on my Italian (I enjoyed the movie quite a bit as well), but I chickened out and borrowed a translation of one of Leonardo Sciascia's works ("Il Giorno della Civetta") instead. Now you have me second-guessing my decision! Anyway, good luck with your blog and I hope you'll consider posting in Italian from time to time so I can practice my translation skills. Buon weekend!

  2. Ciao!
    Compra il libro... Brilliant book, there's a few differences between the book and the film, but it's an excellent read, great Italian reading practice.