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Roberto Saviano

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi
Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano
Cover Concept by Lorenzo Princi, 6 February 2012

Early on in Gomorrah, Roberto Saviano tells a simple story of a Neopolitan tailor who is watching Angelina Jolie walk down the red carpet at the Academy Awards on TV before he breaks down crying. He then explains that the tailor had worked the expensive white fabric into the suit she was wearing and was told that it was going somewhere special. The man was the world's best tailor, yet he had sewed that suit in an illegal factory on the outskirts of Napoli where all "Made in Italy" comes from. A million photographs of the suit would be taken, it was being worn by one of the world's biggest celebrities and yet know one would ever know the name of who made it.

Enough has been said about the grittiness and realism of this book and the fact that Saviano has been in hiding since the release of this feat of gonzo journalism. However, what i really found staggering, was how well it read as a story. I had been expecting an autobiography, but this could have been fiction somewhere between Hunter S. Thompson and Chuck Palanuik, with its brutal descriptions and sickening human gore before you get slapped across the face with a reminder of how real this is and that this wasn't written in the comfort of his own typewriter.

The tagline on the international addition, "Italy's Other Mafia" almost makes the book seem comical and solely included to differentiate the characters from those of La Cosa Nostra (Sicilian Mafia), popularised by much American Gangster fiction. However this book doesn't fit into that world, there isn't anything operatic about Saviano's account.

Gomorrah is set in the trenches, with no black and white. Saviano is quick to explain that there is no conscious separation, no distinction between Mafia and not Mafia. Even names such as Camorra serve the media more than the people, who for them, this is just the world and all they know.

There is no glamour in this book, you want connect with its characters and you certainly won't like any of them, you definitely won't enjoy the concrete industrial settings of polluted ports or run down factories. Still, you must read this book, for it is the type of eye opener we all just may need.