Gomorrah has become an international publishing sensation. In Italy it has sold a million copies and it has been translated into 33 other languages. A theatrical version of the book has already been performed, and a major film is currently under production.
Not bad going for a first book, especially considering the author is just 28. However the subject matter – the Neapolitan Mafia known as the Camorra – has meant the author, Roberto Saviano, has paid a very high price.
Saviano is scathing about the mafia gangs and their “system”. At a huge public meeting in his hometown he once called on people to take action: “Don’t be afraid, kick them out – they’re worth nothing”.
Subsequently he has lived under police protection for the last year.
The reason for the book’s success is that it is told from the inside.
Saviano worked for a Chinese textile manufacturer linked to the Camorra, as a waiter at a Camorra wedding and as a labourer on a Camorra-controlled building site.
He describes a world in which people live in fear, have no rights and think “democracy” is a sick charade.
The Labour-type Democratic Party has a stronghold in Naples – which hit the headlines recently with a massive rubbish crisis, partly caused by Camorra interference. It has avoided discussion of Camorra influence.
The lack of a political alternative is one of the reasons for people’s ignorance over the mafia.
Gomorrah: Italy’s Other Mafia
by Roberto Saviano
Published by Macmillan, out now
Aavailable from Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop, phone 020 7637 1848. » www.bookmarks.uk.com
Tom Behan will speak about his new book on resistance to the Mafia, Defiance, which will be preceded by a film showing, at 6.30pm on Friday 28 March. Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London. Tickets £6 waged/£3 unwaged.