Discovery of Dawn

Overview

This novel, the first from the mayor of Rome, chronicles two parallel stories. Giovanni Astengo, employed by the Italian State Archives, is driven to uncover the fate of his father, who disappeared in 1977 after the murder of his best friend and colleague. Returning to the former country house of his parents, he is compelled to dial the number of his childhood home, and due to forces unknown, someone answers: his thirteen-year-old self, just days before his father’s disappearance. The telephone establishes a ...
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Overview

This novel, the first from the mayor of Rome, chronicles two parallel stories. Giovanni Astengo, employed by the Italian State Archives, is driven to uncover the fate of his father, who disappeared in 1977 after the murder of his best friend and colleague. Returning to the former country house of his parents, he is compelled to dial the number of his childhood home, and due to forces unknown, someone answers: his thirteen-year-old self, just days before his father’s disappearance. The telephone establishes a mysterious link between the older man and his younger self, at a pivotal moment in their lives. While his family life unravels, Giovanni’s search for the cause of his father’s disappearance intensifies, setting the scene for a dramatic conclusion.With this unpredictable detective story, Veltroni explores a troubled era in Italian life: the bloody terrorism that marked the seventies. Through the protagonist’s journey into his family’s past and the secrets that he uncovers, Veltroni offers a new perspective on a period in contemporary history—and its devastating consequences—that many of his compatriots still have not come to terms with.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The captivating first novel by Italian politician Veltroni...starts slowly but hardens into a touching, absorbing story about a man who reclaims his past." ~Publisher's Weekly

"...this book should nevertheless appeal to followers of contemporary European fiction." ~Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

The captivating first novel by Italian politician Veltroni (a former member of parliament, mayor of Rome and candidate for prime minister) starts slowly but hardens into a touching, absorbing story about a man who reclaims his past. Giovanni Astengo keeps his life at arm's length: the father of a 12-year-old girl with Down syndrome, Stella, and a forlorn, world-weary 20-year-old, Lorenzo, Giovanni is also still searching for his own lost father, who vanished during a period of political terrorism in 1977. Revisiting the country house his parents used to frequent, Giovanni discovers there that he can call his 13-year-old self (on the eve of his father's disappearance, no less) by dialing his old phone number. Over the phone, Giovanni tries to change the future by having his younger self look for clues about his father's disappearance. There are fascinating intellectual tenets coursing through Veltroni's work, and the bond that forms between the two Giovannis is beautifully realized, as is the clarity that the older Giovanni finally achieves. (Aug.)

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Library Journal

With this book, Veltroni, a prominent Italian journalist and the former mayor of Rome, becomes a first-time novelist at an age when most writers have long since hit their stride. Narrated by Giovanni Astengo, a man to whose character the polymathic Veltroni seems to have foisted half of his own personal interests and autobiographical details (the other half having gone to Astengo's son), the novel begins in quasidiary form. Each morning at dawn, Astengo, an archivist, retreats to a study where he muses on the current state of his life and fractured family. Gradually, as the bond with his maturing son strengthens, Astengo's own relationship with his long-missing father becomes the story's focal point. Searching for clues to his disappearance, he delves into his past and the novel, likewise, into metaphysics and mystery. Though Hofstadter's translation suffers at times from literalism ("grown-ups look as if they come from another epoch") and the use of outdated vocabulary ("this very telephone of yore"), this book should nevertheless appeal to followers of contemporary European fiction. Recommended for large fiction collections.
—Brendan Curley

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847831098
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Publication date: 9/9/2008
  • Pages: 140
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Walter Veltroni was elected a Member of Parliament in 1987 and has been mayor of Rome since 2006. He is also leader of the Italian Democratic Party. A professional journalist, he was editor-in-chief of L’Unità from 1992 to 1996. This is his first novel. Douglas Hofstadter is a professor and award-winning author. His book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid received the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.
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