Praise for Ferocity
"A family wrecked by patriarchal stranglehold; a daughter who both defends and defies her father; and the deep rottenness of a society that bends low to power...make this work biting social commentary as well as edge-of-seat reading...A rich and readable cautionary tale for strong-minded readers."
— Library Journal , starred review
"A mesmerizing exploration of failure, resilience, and profound, multifaceted loss."
"This oblique kaleidoscopic approach allows the mystery to slowly and captivatingly resolve while offering a layered portrait of contemporary Italian life and the abuses of power that money can excuse."
— Publishers Weekly
“Complex, darkly absorbing and mysterious literary fiction [...] Lagioia’s prose—in Shugaar’s translation—depicts a family living far from the ease it projects; loyalties and betrayals painted in shades of gray; and a violently alive setting that plays off its characters.”
"A deeply satisfying read all its own...A page-turner, sure, but smart, smart, smart."
—Words Without Borders
“In a year of exceptionally good books, this hypnotic novel takes the cake. Ferocity weaves psychological realism, noir, suspense and domestic drama in a meaty, multifaceted work of fiction. A piercingly observed family saga, a chilling mystery surrounding an enigmatic female lead and a shrewd depiction of modern Italythis book suceeds at every level.” BookRiot
"[I]ntricately planned...renders moral and political corruption's rampant and universal prevalence."
"This sumptuous [prose] [...] quickly wields allegory, social realism, domestic drama, and myth to create a layered and expansive novel."
—Chicago Review of Books
“A work of startling energy and structural precision, an ambitious novel whose linguistic brilliance is frequently at odds with the twists and turns of Michele’s quest for the truth.”
“[ Ferocity ] ticks all the boxes of a thriller while also being a masterfully written, baroque, many-faceted depiction of modern Italy.”
"Ferocity is a portrait of a family tragedy, but also at its heart explores two competing visions of humanity: one ferocious and deterministic, the other transcendent and free-willed. "
"Lagioia writes vividly and conjures up an atmosphere of menace with great skill. "
—The Mail on Sunday
"Lagioia is one of the most interesting Italian authors alive today."
—Michele De Mieri, Domenica del Sole 24 Ore
"Lagioia brilliantly demonstrates the folly of his characters: rather than describing them from the outside, he constructs his narrative by oscillating unceasingly between past and future, premonition and regret."
—Emanuele Trevi, Corriere della Sera
"A story about family, about wealth, about Italians, about a humanity that is obscenely spent and confounded. A powerful, supremely well-crafted novel."
—Goffredo Fofi, Internazionale
"There's something Balzacian about Ferocity (and something that puts one in mind of Franzen's The Corrections ). It digs beneath current events, inhabiting a zone that is more opaque and ambiguous than the nightly news."
—Paolo di Paolo, TuttoLibri
"Nicola Lagioia's latest novel opens with a scene that is hypnotically, devastatingly beautiful."
—Massimo Onofri, Avvenire
"This novel reminds one of the Greek tragedies and those ineluctable questions about the relationship between choice and destiny."
—Luca Illetterati, Alias
When we first meet Clara Salvemini, daughter of the corrupt, manipulative head of a formidable building empire, she is caught in glaring headlights as she stumbles bloodied and naked down the highway. Later, we're told that that her death is a suicide, and we know something disturbing is going on. Lagioia, who won the Strega Prize for this remarkable novel, portrays a family wrecked by patriarchal stranglehold; a daughter who both defends and defies her father; and the deep rottenness of a society that bends low to power, which make this work biting social commentary as well as edge-of-seat reading. The Salvemini children include oldest Ruggero, unable to escape his father's sway; self-indulged youngest Gioia, seemingly a child at 26; and Michele, son of his father's mistress, uneasily integrated into the family; he's awkward, antisocial, and closely bonded to Clara. The indelibly drawn Clara, riven by alcohol and pills, is a serial adulteress and participant in hard porn, and her mysterious death shakes her immediate world. The narrative is satisfyingly packed and textured beyond the needs of basic plot; often, two events or conversations take place simultaneously, dizzily clarifying the characters' mental states and motivations. VERDICT A rich and readable cautionary tale for strong-minded readers.
Lagioia makes his enthralling English-language debut, translated into dazzling prose by Shugaar.Amid what is likely the most stirring passage ever written in all of literature about a gas station sky dancer, a naked, blood-covered woman emerges from the brush, stumbling past "tiny, fuzzy-winged creatures" that sway in the dark as though "tied to the moon's invisible thread," and wanders onto the highway. This is Clara, eldest daughter of the Salvemini family of Bari, whose death that night is ruled a suicide by purported leap off a parking garage. Her half brother, Michele, with whom Clara cherished an almost supernatural bond as a child, born of an affair and incompletely absorbed into the family when his mother died in childbirth, is plagued by suspicions about his sister's death. "In the intricate forest of grief, a path emerges," and, as Michele questions his flatly dismal past and his father's motives, a deep substratum of insidious corruption and habitual degradation emerges, threatening not only the tenuous stability of the Salvemini family, but the very ground beneath their feet. Beware comparisons to popular modern family sagas: this is a complex novel, intricately orchestrated and, above all, inventively composed. The past and present pile up and fuse, dissolve, reunite, with characters living present action and recalled memory all at once; a single action may be refracted and revisited from several vantage points, filtered through various characters' perceptions. Grammatical subjects flip abruptly from one line to the next, and it is only through Logioia's often virtuosic character development that the attentive reader will remain oriented to the progression of events. Not recommended for the casual reader (or easily scandalized), but those who persevere will be swept up in a rich and rewarding literary experience. A mesmerizing exploration of failure, resilience, and profound, multifaceted loss.