In I’m Not Scared ( May/June 2003), a young boy and his friends discovered a dark secret near their home in rural Tuscany. In this earlier novel, published in 1999 but just recently translated into English, Italian author Niccolò Ammaniti again explores human hopes, dreams, and relationships in Ischiano Scalo, a backwater Italian village. As 12-year-old social outcast Pietro Moroni reluctantly vandalizes his classroom, the middle-aged flamenco guitarist Graziano Biglia returns to the village hoping to marry a younger starlet. When things go awry, Graziano seduces a spinster teacher and Pietro tries to avenge his crime. Both, however, must reconcile their dreams with the terrible price of their actions.
Canongate. 405 pages. $23. ISBN: 1841958247
"[A] snapshot of small-town Italian life that could be, just as easily, a tale of small-town American life. … Ammaniti weaves almost seamlessly between his characters as they spiral slowly toward their inevitable sad conclusions." Tina Jordan
NY Times Book Review
"With its childhood innocents and adult grotesques, Niccolò Ammaniti’s second novel is haunted by the ghost of Federico Fellini. … I suspect I may not be alone in admiring the way Ammaniti plays comedy and tragedy against each other." Christopher Bray
"Ammaniti beautifully evokes the lopsided streets of an Italian backwater and, especially in Pietro’s surprising friendship with the prettiest girl in the village, the shadow life of childhood."
"Ammaniti profoundly comprehends the young, the once-young, the perpetually young, and the belatedly young." Blossom Kirschenbaum
Like the critically acclaimed I’m Not Scared, I’ll Steal You Away juxtaposes the joys and pains of childhood and adolescence with the struggles of adulthood. In his portrayal of an ordinary, introspective bullied boy and a middle-aged man experiencing a ludicrous midlife crisis, Niccolò Ammaniti possesses a "Dickensian touch for character study" (New York Times Book Review). Set in a rural Tuscan village passed each hour by the Genoa-Rome trains, the novel also evokes a cinematic sense of place, a town of misfits with extraordinary dreams but quite mundane lives. Filled with humor and tragedy, pathos and pop culture, I’ll Steal You Away is a page-turner until the unpredictable end.