Amara Lakhous was born in Algiers in 1970. He has a degree in philosophy from the University of Algiers and another in cultural anthropology from the University la Sapienza, Rome. Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (Europa Editions, 2008) was awarded Italy’s prestigious Flaiano prize and was described by the Seattle Times as a wonderfully offbeat novel.”
It’s October 2006. In a few months Romania will join the European Union. Meanwhile, the northern Italian town of Turin has been rocked by a series of deadly crimes involving Albanians and Romanians. Is this the latest eruption of a clan feud dating back centuries, or is the trouble being incited by local organized crime syndicates who routinely infect” neighborhoods and then cleanse” them in order to earn big on property developments? Enzo Laganà, born in Turin to Southern Italian parents, is a journalist with a wry sense of humor who is determined to get to the bottom of this crime wave. But before he can do so, he has to settle a thorny issue concerning Gino, a small pig belonging to his Nigerian neighbor, Joseph. Who brought the pig to the neighborhood mosque? And for heaven’s sake why?
This multiethnic mystery from the author of Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio pays homage to the cinematic tradition of the commedia all’italiana as it probes the challenges and joys of life in a newly multicultural society.
“French and British literature have long been enriched by the biculturalism of authors like Tahar Ben Jelloun, Amin Maalouf, Gaitam Malkani and Monica Ali. With talented new writers like Lakhous...Italy is closing the gap.”—The New York Times
“Do we have an Italian Camus on our hands? Just possibly . . . No recent Italian novel so elegantly and directly confronts the ‘new Italy.’”—Philadelphia Inquirer
“The author’s real subject [in Clash of…] is the heave and crush of modern, polyglot Rome, and he renders the jabs of everyday speech with such precision that the novel feels exclaimed rather than written.”—The New Yorker
“What’s memorable about Lakhous’ Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio is what he shows us of an often inward-looking nation confronting the teeming vibrancy of multicultural life.”—NPR’s Fresh Air
“[Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio is] a satirical, enigmatic take on the racial tensions that afflict present-day Europe.”—Brooklyn Rail