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Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorioby Amara Lakhous
Synopses & Reviews
A small culturally mixed community living in an apartment building in the center of Rome is thrown into disarray when one of the neighbors is murdered. An investigation ensues and as each of the victim's neighbors is questioned, the reader is offered an all-access pass into the most colorful neighborhood in contemporary Rome. Each character takes his or her turn center-stage, "giving evidence," recounting his or her story — the dramas of racial identity, the anxieties and misunderstandings born of a life spent on society's margins, the daily humiliations provoked by mainstream culture's fears and indifference, preconceptions and insensitivity. What emerges is a moving story that is common to us all, whether we live in Italy or Los Angeles.
This novel is animated by a style that is as colorful as the neighborhood it describes and is characterized by seemingly effortless equipoise that borrows from the cinematic tradition of the Commedia all Italiana as exemplified by directors such as Federico Fellini.
At the heart of this bittersweet comedy told with affection and sensitivity is a social reality that we often tend to ignore and an anthropological analysis, refreshing in its generosity, that cannot fail to fascinate.
"Lakhous's prize-winning second novel is a social satire and murder mystery concerning an immigrant-filled apartment complex in Rome. After a murder in the building elevator, each occupant of the Piazza Vittorio — among these, Parviz Mansoor Samadi, an Iranian chef who detests pizza; Benedetta Esposito, an aging concierge from Naples; Iqbal Amir Allah, a Bangladeshi shopkeeper — gets a chapter to relate the truth as he or she knows it (or wants it known), apparently to the police. The odd man out, and the main suspect, is Amedo, a man believed by his neighbors to be a native Italian. The tenants are by turns outraged, disillusioned, defensive and afraid, and their frequently wild testimony teases out intriguing psychological and social insight alongside a playful whodunit plot, exposing the power of fear, racial prejudice and cultural misconception to rob a neighborhood of its humanity." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A small culturally mixed community in the center of Rome is thrown into disarray after one of the neighbors is murdered. As each of the victims' neighbors is questioned, readers are offered an all-access pass into the most colorful neighborhood in contemporary Rome.
About the Author
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. He recently completed a Ph.D. thesis entitled "Living Islam as a Minority." His first novel, Le cimici e il pirata (Bedbugs and the Pirate), was published in 1999. Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, winner of Italy's prestigious Flaiano prize, is his second novel. He lives in Italy.
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