The seeds for the twelve interconnected crime stories in Darkness came from the pages of the Italian daily papers. In sparse prose that echoes the files of a police report, Dacia Maraini gives a resounding voice to the string of victims who receive only fleeting mention in the media each day. Among them is twelve-year-old Viollca, an Albanian sold into prostitution by her parents, who hope she will soon return with enough money to pay for her dowry and a new roof. And the boy Tano, who brings charges of physical ...
The seeds for the twelve interconnected crime stories in Darkness came from the pages of the Italian daily papers. In sparse prose that echoes the files of a police report, Dacia Maraini gives a resounding voice to the string of victims who receive only fleeting mention in the media each day. Among them is twelve-year-old Viollca, an Albanian sold into prostitution by her parents, who hope she will soon return with enough money to pay for her dowry and a new roof. And the boy Tano, who brings charges of physical abuse against his father. Two years and the death of his younger brother pass before anyone at the police station will believe him. Linking the collection together is Adele Sofia, a steel-nerved though tenderhearted police commissioner with a penchant for licorice at various points on the investigative trail, and whose job it is to hunt down those who prey on society's weakest and most vulnerable members. Told in a straight forward, unforgettably powerful and affecting manner in which the facts speak for themselves, Darkness illuminates the underbelly of Rome. With absorbing compassion and discretion Maraini creates a cast of characters who wake up each morning to a reality quite different from la dolce vita.
A 12-year-old Albanian girl is sold into prostitution in Italy; a boy is duped by a man who pretends he is a pigeon; an eight-year-old girl is forced by her grandmother to service an old man. Most of the 12 stories in Italian writer Dacia Maraini's chilling collection Darkness involve the betrayal of children by the adults charged with caring for them. Alicetta, a schizophrenic girl, is given baths late at night by a hospital orderly armed with sedatives; Tano, a tough 11-year-old, denounces his father for rape many times, but no one believes him. In spare, luminous prose, Maraini evokes the wary innocence of abused children and the perversity, confusion or stupidity of their parents and guardians. Linking most of the stories is Insp. Adele Sofia, who sucks on licorice drops as she ponders her cases. This is a moving, gracefully written collection.
A dozen grim vignettes show the brutish side of Italian life, culled from newspaper crime reports and turned into the caseload of sharp-witted but gentle police commissioner Adele Sofia by award-winning feminist writer Maraini. The first involves a boy abducted, raped, and strangled by a stranger who lured him from his house by making himself seem like a pigeon in the boy's mind; later, the killer turns out to be a social worker already involved in the murder investigation. A mentally challenged girl entrusted to a clinic by her last living relative, her ailing grandfather, is dead within months; the investigation reveals that two male clinic workers repeatedly raped her at bath time, then kept her sedated until she died, while the pompous head of the clinic and a harried co-worker suspected nothing. An 11-year-old boy reports his father for rape, but an investigation proves inconclusive; three years later the boy's little brother is dead and fingers are being pointed at both the boy and his father. The feuding family's conflicting testimony confuses everyone, and only Commissioner Sofia keeps her wits about her, aided by sacks of her favorite licorice drops. Finally, a young woman is tortured and murdered while on a trip to see the pope, and a female reporter gets on the case with such a vengeance that she discovers clues that lead to the arrest of a well-spoken, mild-mannered professional with a theory that there's a little of the murderer in everyone. Simple, sobering riffs of whodunit stuff, with cumulative accents on the downbeat.