An extract from Gomorrah. Roberto Saviano


P A R T   O N E

T H E   P O R T

The container swayed as the crane hoisted it onto the ship. The spreader, which hooks the container to the crane, was unable to control its movement, so it seemed to float in the air. The hatches, which had been improperly closed, suddenly sprang open, and dozens of bodies started raining down. They looked like mannequins. But when they hit the ground, their heads split open, as if their skulls were real. And they were. Men, women, even a few children, came tumbling out of the container. All dead. Frozen, stacked one on top of another, packed like sardines. These were the Chinese who never die. The eternal ones, who trade identity papers among themselves. So this is where they’d ended up, the bodies that in the wildest fantasies might have been cooked in Chinese restaurants, buried in fields beside factories, or tossed into the mouth of Vesuvius. Here they were. Spilling from the container by the dozen, their names scribbled on tags and tied with string around their necks. They’d all put aside money so they could be buried in China, back in their hometown, a percentage withheld from their salary to guarantee their return voyage once they were dead. A space in a container and a hole in some strip of Chinese soil. The port crane operator covered his face with his hands as he told me about it, eyeing me through his fingers. As if the mask of his hands might give him the courage to speak. He’d seen the bodies fall, but there’d been no need to sound the alarm or alert someone. He merely lowered the container to the ground, and dozens of people appeared out of nowhere to put everyone back inside and hose down the remains. That’s how it went. He still couldn’t believe it and hoped he was hallucinating, due to too much overtime. Then he closed his fingers, completely covering his eyes. He kept on whimpering, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Continue reading

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A chat with Pagliarani. Luca Paci


Elio Pagliarani lives in Rome, in an apartment block not far from the Vatican City, both a modern and a popular area.

He welcomes me in his sitting room, on our right a bookshelf which climbs up to the ceiling. After a long introduction on what I do, where I come from and so forth, Mr. Pagliarani begins speaking about himself, or rather about poetry. It is a strange interview, with few questions coming from me; the hoarse, lion-like voice of the poet and the smell of his pipe merge to create a unreal atmosphere, full of suspense. Outside the Roman traffic. Continue reading

The Song of the H.F. and of the U.M. in three parts. Elsa Morante


I
Explanatory Introduction

?What does H.F. stand for?     It’s an abbreviation
for Happy Few.
?And who are the Happy Few?      Explaining it’s not easy,
for the Happy Few can’t be described.
Whilst few in number
they come from every race sex & nation
epoch age society status
and religion.
From the rich & from the poor
(but, if born poor, they usually stay that way,
and, if  born rich, soon end up poor)
from the young & the old (yet
it’s seldom they get here in time to get old)
from the beautiful and from the ugly (although it’s true that,
even when they’re vulgarly regarded as ugly,
in REALITY they’re beautiful; but REALITY
is rarely visible….
Well then.  Impartially, to be fair,
we’ll certify here, in good faith,
that the H. F., all of them, are always
BEAUTIFUL
even if, for the most part, people can’t see it).
Anyway, it’ll do for the present
explanatory preamble to note
that amongst their many & various forms there are
the exalted and the notorious, the anonymous and the hidden
(although, in the case of the famous, Celebrity doesn’t
generally show any great hurry to embrace them while they’re alive,
taking greater pleasure in seizing them in its posthumous grip,
once they’re already
deceased). Continue reading

City of Panic. Franco Berardi (Bifo)


The urban territory is increasingly traversed by streams of diasporic, heterogeneous and de-territorialised imaginary. Panic tends to become the urban psychic dimension. It is a reaction of a sensitive organism submitted to a stimulation too strong and too rapid. A reaction of an organism urged by too frequent and intense impulses to be emotively and conversationally elaborated.

What is panic? We are told that psychiatrists recently discovered and named a new kind of disorder – they call it “Panic Syndrome”. It seems that it is something quite recent in the psychological self-perception of human beings. But what does panic mean? Continue reading