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As God Commands

As God Commands

4.8 6
by Niccolo Ammaniti, Jonathan Hunt (Translator)

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From the internationally best-selling author of I’m Not Scared comes a dizzying and compulsively readable novel set in a moribund town in industrial Italy, where a father and son contend with a hostile world and their own inner demons. The economically depressed village of Varrano, where Cristiano Zena lives with his hard-drinking, out-of-work father,


From the internationally best-selling author of I’m Not Scared comes a dizzying and compulsively readable novel set in a moribund town in industrial Italy, where a father and son contend with a hostile world and their own inner demons. The economically depressed village of Varrano, where Cristiano Zena lives with his hard-drinking, out-of-work father, Rino, is a world away from the picturesque towns of travel-brochure Italy. When Rino and his rough-edged cronies Danilo and Quattro Formaggi come up with a plan to reverse all their fortunes, Cristiano wonders if maybe their lives are poised for deliverance after all.  But the plan goes horribly awry. On a night of apocalyptic weather, each character will act in a way that will have irreversible consequences for themselves and others, and Cristiano will find his life changed forever, and not in the way he had hoped. Gritty and relentless, As God Commands moves at breakneck speed, blending brutal violence, dark humor, and surprising tenderness. With clear-eyed affection, Niccolò Ammaniti introduces a cast of unforgettable characters trapped at the crossroads of hope and despair.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Plans for an ATM heist go terribly wrong for a bumbling gang of Italian ruffians in Ammaniti's latest. Rino Zena, an unemployed single father with neo-Nazi tendencies, can barely keep his teenage son, Cristiano, out of social services. Zeno's friend Danilo Aprea hopes to buy a lingerie shop in order to woo back his wife after the death of their daughter. Their plan, to boost an ATM, hinges on the car-thieving skills of Corrado Rumitz, nicknamed Quattro Formaggi, a not-quite-right misfit obsessed with a porn star named Ramona. After watching Dog Day Afternoon, Rino takes the movie as a sign from God not to go forward with the plan, but word fails to get to Danilo or to Quattro Formaggi, who, on his way to meet up, is distracted by a teenager he thinks is Ramona. When a massive rain storm hits, the series of tragic coincidences quickly turns deadly. Ammaniti, a wonder at creating graphic black comedy, keeps the plot rolling while pushing his characters to their absolute limits, even if the last act is a bit messy. If the Coen brothers ever wanted to go Italian, this'd be prime adaptation material. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Thirteen-year-old Cristiano Zena lives in the small industrial town of Varano, Italy, with his unemployed father, Rino, an alcoholic neo-Nazi. With friends Quattro Formaggi and Danilo, Rino decides to liberate an ATM machine from the local bank by driving a vehicle into it. But on the fateful night, in the midst of a torrential rainstorm, things do not go as planned. The ATM is not stolen, three people end up dead, Rino lies in a coma, and Cristiano's life is unchanged forever. Like David Lida's Travel Advisory: Stories of Mexico, this book shows the gritty side of life not seen by tourists heading to a popular destination. The issues raised here range widely, from alienation, violence, drug use, hunger, and joblessness to the role of religion in today's world, which would make this an excellent book discussion choice; fortunately, a reading group guide is included. VERDICT A powerful novel, cinematically written, with touches of unsentimental emotion and comedy, this international best seller won the prestigious Strega Prize. The masterly Ammaniti (I'm Not Scared) creates powerful characters not easy to forget. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/09.]—Lisa Rohrbaugh, formerly with East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH
Kirkus Reviews
Punk-rock desperadoes and a daft father-son tragicomedy team run riot through the mess and splendor of today's Italy. Bang! Propulsive from the first page, this latest from Ammaniti (I'll Steal You Away, 2007, etc.) is stunningly, disturbingly entertaining adrenaline fiction. Teenaged Cristiano, hyper-vigilant and insecure, wakes to his father brandishing a pistol. Rino's a rager-ropey, tattooed deltoids; cold beers in his pockets-and he's got a mission for junior. Kill a dog. Barking awake all of snowbound Varrano, the factory owner's mutt is Rino's current target, along with Jews, blacks, the rich, TV stars and the village's jailbait, whom he regularly despoils and discards. Like a crazed commando-puppet, Cristiano does dad's bidding, leaving "a red hole among the black hairs" of the poor mongrel. Then he plunges into picaresque adventures with dad's crew: Quattro Formaggi (named after the pizza), who barely survived electrocution in a fishing accident (!), and Danilo Aprea, flashing bling and hair "dyed mahogany red." It's Danilo's brainstorm to shanghai an ATM machine, capstone caper of these goons' thug life. The botched heist is the book's backbone, but its glorious and greasy flesh is a speed-of-light montage of family-and-friend dysfunction: Rino screaming "kiss your God" at Cristiano; Danilo's wife choking to death, "the cap from a bottle of shampoo stuck in her windpipe"; Cristiano nearly killing a rich kid who had the temerity to score with Fabiana and Esmeralda, Cristiano's mental pinups and the town's shoplifting supersluts; Cristiano, for a perfunctory school assignment, penning a harrowing skinhead screed ("we can be a great pure nation again"). Ammanitirelentlessly creates a poetics of perversity, an anthem of anger for working-class Italy: bollixed and laid-off by Internet modernity, appalled and titillated by the omnipresence of Britney Spears, fearful of the crash of Italy's currency, the corruption of politicians and the onslaught of immigrants. Not at all pretty, but darkly, ferociously beautiful-a triumph for Europe's hottest novelist.

Product Details

Canongate U.S.
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Niccolò Ammaniti was born in Rome in 1966. He has written three novels and a collection of short stories. He won the prestigious Italian Viareggio-Repaci Prize for Fiction with his bestselling novel I’m Not Scared, which has been translated into thirty-five languages and became a prize-winning film. His next novel, I'll Steal You Away, was longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and The Crossroads received the Premio Strega Prize, Italy’s equivalent of the Booker, in 2007.

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As God Commands 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
elilbitz More than 1 year ago
Very dark, desperate characters trying to make their own beauty in the world...in their own (sometimes very twisted) way. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and didn't want to put it down at times. The author was quite successful in creating characters one would not usually care about and made them very interesting and cared for...IDENTIFIABLE. Couldn't find a flaw as I read. Great wrap-up and conclusion too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like complicated anguished characters this is the book for you. The four main characters have terrible lifes so maybe that is what makes you like them and feel sorry for them. It is a great book. I recommend it highly to fiction lovers. Once you start reading it you can't wait to see what happens but at the same time you don't want it to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is an amazing history with great characters and original style. It is my first book of Ammaniti and I really enjoyed it.
kirstinmary More than 1 year ago
A few errors in the "translation" which were a bit irritating but overall, I loved this book. The characters were very real and believable. The character development took about a third of the book and make it a tad slow to really get going but when it did.... it grabbed you hook, line and sinker. Do NOT READ THE LAST PAGE FIRST!!!!!