God's Mountain

God's Mountain


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This is a story told by a boy in his thirteenth year, recorded in his secret diary. His life is about to change; his world, about to open.


He lives in Montedidio—God’s Mountain—a cluster of alleys in the heart of Naples. He brings a paycheck home every Saturday from Mast’Errico’s carpentry workshop where he sweeps the floor. He is on his way to becoming a man—his boy’s voice is abandoning him. His wooden boomerang is neither toy nor tool, but something in between. Then there is Maria, the thirteen-year-old girl who lives above him and, like so many girls, is wiser than he.  She carries the burden of a secret life herself. She’ll speak to him for the first time this summer. There is also his friendship with a cobbler named Rafaniello, a Jewish refugee who has escaped the horrors of the Holocaust, who has no idea how long he’s been on this earth, and who is said to sprout wings for a blessed few.


It is 1963, a young man’s summer of discovery. A time for a boy with innocent hands and a pure heart to look beyond the ordinary in everyday things to see the far-reaching landscape, and all of its possibilities, from a rooftop terrace on God’s Mountain.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781573229609
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/1995
Edition description: FIRST
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 490,804
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Erri De Luca was born in Naples in 1950. He is a columnist for Il Manifesto and a novelist whose work has been translated into seven languages. He lives outside of Rome.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“This small novella speaks of the most common of men, the most marginal of lives, and yet becomes an echo and a reflection of the most important of all books.”—La Stampa
“De Luca's prose is rich, succulent, full of life: one can almost taste it as a ripe fruit in the mouth. The tale captures its readers, and immerses them in a magical atmosphere.”
“The language of De Luca’s narrator is extraordinary, capable of recounting the most cruel tragedies, the most complicated thoughts, the most profound feelings, using the simplest of our daily expressions, yet avoiding easy sentimentalism.”—L'Unita'
“Once the book is closed, the indelible impression is that one has just listened to a sacred hymn…And in the end, one has attained heaven.”—La Repubblica


Reading Group Guide


  1. Discuss the ways in which the narrator's physical, intellectual, and sexual identity are shaped over the course of the novel. What are the defining events of his development? How has he changed by time Rafaniello takes flight?

  2. "In spring I was still a child and now I'm in the middle of things I can't understand," the narrator of God's Mountain reveals (p. 128). What things is he referring to? What, if any understanding of the events surrounding him has he come to by the end of the story?

  3. What role does Maria play in the narrator's life? What is she seeking from him? Why does she say that their love is, "an alliance, a combative force."? (p.105) Against whom are they allied? What binds them together?

  4. "Not everything is good about my body growing. Something evil grows up alongside it... a bitter force capable of violence...Is this what men suddenly become?" the narrator asks himself (p. 155). Do you think he has arrived at an answer by the end of the story? Why or why not?

  5. Why has the author set this story among the winding alleys and high perches of the town of Montedidio? How does the narrator's perception of his town differ from Rafaniello's? His father's? What about Maria's? How do economic circumstances affect the lives of these characters?

  6. Language and voice play a central part in the development of the young narrator. How does his writing practice contribute to your understanding of him as a character? What about his understanding of himself? Why does his voice emerge only at the very end of the novel?

  7. This story includes a Jerusalem-bound shoemaker with wings beneath his hump, a boomerang that may have been carved from the Ark of the Covenant, and a carpenter who likes to fish. Discuss the significance of these and other religious motifs in the novel.

  8. Why do you think the name of the narrator is never revealed to the reader?

  9. Is God's Mountain is a coming-of-age story? A fairy tale? A religious allegory? All of these? Why or why not?

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