“La città dei vivi” by Nicola Lagioia

Since I had a Spanish book last week, I decided to do another foreign language (for you at least) book, maybe you get your hands on it or or another Lagioia novel. This one was one of my favourite books of last year.

What is it about?

Another non-fiction book. This time… True Crime! True crime is a passion I have and I cannot actually recall what made me find this book, but I remember that everyone seemed to love it and I had never read a true crime book, and so I went for it.
Nicola Lagioia follows the case of a very young man brutally murdered in his house. REALLY brutally. The interesting fact about this murder is that one of the murderers confesses straight away. From there the book starts reconstructing not only the facts, but also the characters involved, their families, etcetera. Of course, the dreaded climax comes when you follow the murderers on the (very very long) day of the murder. A lot of vodka and a lot of coke is consumed.

What makes it good?

I loved many things about this novel. One is that the author never judges anyone. It’s one of the points of the book, actually, trying to understand the complexities of a case like this and trying to present the public with a fair depiction of all the characters. He seems to genuinely feel for everyone involved, which makes already for an interesting read. It’s a hard read, because the homicide is really gruesome and yet, you can’t help pitying the killers. It also reflects on new generations, the shit of the Interweb and media pressure. And it is oh so Italian. It does not make you want to live there, though. In Rome especially, but in Italy in general. There are vast shadow areas in Italy that are not necessarily always in full view and this book brings them to the surface. Not everything is fashion and the Coliseum and the Lakes. Brutality is there, it’s just hidden, and that makes it in a way even more terrifying.

The style

I also loved the style of the book, this man can really write. He is very insightful and relatable, but his presence is not bothersome, it colours the book with some humanity. And then, at the backdrop of this, there is Rome. It’s almost a character in itself. Lagioia loves it, and boy you can see it. I found the “character” Roma equally as fascinating as the rest of them.

Final Mark

It was the surprise of last year’s reads. I kind of stumbled upon it and I enjoyed it (if you can call enjoyment reading about a gruesome murder) very much. It is a true crime story as much as a story on Rome and a story on its writer and his obsession with some truly unforgettable characters.  


On Goodreads.

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