It’s never a good sign when I have to start a book review off with a disclosure statement, but here we are. I didn’t finish Gomorrah. There was nothing I liked about it. Sentence structure. Lurid descriptions of violence only included to be shocking. Saviano’s subtle ennobling of mafia bosses. The few redeeming characters are either crushed by the machine or killed for fighting back. And vilified after death by a complicit media, so that they don’t become martyrs. This book has almost ruined Italy for me. There isn’t an item you can buy, nowhere you can go, nothing that isn’t controlled by one despicable crime network or another. Saviano tries to make the kingpins seem like sympathetic figures. He bemoans the difficulties the bosses have of spending their millions (which they’ve coerced and stolen from the people of Italy) while living the life of a fugitive, both from the law and from the other crime syndicates. He assures us that the people working ludicrous hours for pittance wages with no benefits, job protection, human rights or physical safety are still much better off than they would be if the work was done legally, because then “prices would go up and there’d be no more market–which means the work would disappear from Italy.” (26) Even if that is true, I have a hard time swallowing the idea that the solution is to let the mob continue to control everything. While Saviano’s rage starts to come out at the evil surrounding him towards the few final chapters of the book (which I skimmed), the majority of it read to me as the kind of shoulder-shrugging resignation to some flaw not really worth fixing. The whole thing made me sick to my heart, and while I stand in awe of Saviano’s bravery at publishing something like this and hope that he can live out the rest of his life in peace and safety, I’m also grateful to have quit reading this book. I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of true crime with a strong stomach for graphic violence and descriptions of torture. Not? You may need to give it a pass.
Oh yeah, content warnings for, well, pretty much everything. Maybe not abuse?