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Children Drawn By The Lethal Light

Satiated. According to Webster‘s dictionary, this term “may sometimes imply only complete satisfaction but more often suggest repletion that has destroyed interest or desire.“ After sincere reflections I came to this definition, which perfectly describes my inner feeling upon closing the last page of the latest Roberto Saviano‘s novel La paranza dei bambini. Unfortunately, with its latter meaning.

The famous author of Gomorrah returns again with the same theme of mafia in Naples. Only this time he focuses on adolescent members of Camorra. Fifteen year olds follow the example they see on the streets every day. They strive to get rich here and now and the only way is to form a gang, start selling drugs, eliminate competitors and frighten neighborhood.

La paranza“ means a fishing vessel in Italian. It goes fishing by tricking fish with the light. R. Saviano uses this metaphor to reveal the essence of the gang (as la paranza is also a gang or a clan). Teenagers are drawn into paranza like fish by a deceptive light and there‘s no escape afterwards.

Based on true facts, the novel attempts to feature cruel and senseless youngsters who may poop on the face of another guy just because he was nice with their girlfriend, may sell drugs on every corner without any scruples or may shoot a boss just because he doesn‘t suit their plans. “It took me ten years to become a child but it‘d take only a second to shoot you in the face. “ That‘s their modern philosophy.

Nonetheless, it somehow feels as the whole story barely touches the surface. Or perhaps it constitutes everything you‘ve already read and thought over, hence leaving you emotionless and deaf. There‘s a sense of repetition or even a sense of a jammed vinyl playing the same old tune again and again with two possible outcomes: either no one actually hears it anymore or, vice versa, gets annoyed and irritated. Who knows, maybe Gomorrah was really enough.

La Paranza dei bambini isn‘t available in English yet but reading it in non-original version will presumably lessen its value even more. The reason is the Neapolitan dialect, which has been the greatest challenge to the author and which strengthens authenticity of the story. If it was rather complicated for the Italian to master it (Roberto Saviano asked University professors for help), what difficulties the translator might encounter then?

Apart from the phrases in Neapolitan dialect, the story teaches you one more thing: if you are in Naples, beware of the teenagers on the motorbikes. Branded sneakers and T-shirts are of a greater value to them than your precious life. Adda murì mammà!

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