Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet
By: Amara Lakhous
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
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?
I’ve been eyeing this book for years. From the intriguing and absurd title to the Italian setting to the timely issues of immigration in the EU at the time with the expansion of members, I was very keen to read it. After having it on my wishlist for ages, I finally picked it up a few months ago–yay! 🙂
What a wonderfully absurd book. That’s the word that seem to come to mind as I was reading it. Our protagonist, Enzo, finds himself in a strange web of events that seem to reflect the chaos of what was going on in society: the feud between two groups, both immigrants to Italy and in which Italian society looks down on, as well as the issue of a pig that the neighbouring mosque is upset about. Intermingled in the story are commentaries on society’s opinion of immigrants, of the dispersion of news through the media, of Italian mothers. It makes for a thoughtful read amidst the chaos and absurdity of the situation that Enzo finds himself in and whilst this story was set in 2006 at the time when the EU was about to make another massive expansion, the themes it touches on are still very much relevant today and applicable to any society now.
There were a lot of great quotes peppered throughout this book and for the most part the story does come to some conclusion at the end. However it does seem like it ends on something of a cliffhanger, another story thread that presents itself but then is left open-ended, likely a nod to the fact that some things are just never fully resolved. Overall it’s a really interesting novel and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re into novels with social commentary and issues intertwined with satire as well as translated fiction.