From Nicola Lagioia, winner of the Strega Prize for Fiction, a spellbinding literary thriller based on the true story of one of the most vicious crimes in recent Italian history. An intoxicating novel that takes readers on a surprising journey into the darkest corners of contemporary Rome and of the human soul.
In March 2016, in a nondescript apartment on the outskirts of Rome, Manuel Foffo and Marco Prato, two “ordinary” young men from good families, brutally murdered twenty-three year old Luca Varani. News of the seemingly inexplicable crime sent shockwaves through Rome and beyond. What motivated such extreme violence? Were the killers evil or in the grip of societal evils? Did they know what they were doing? Or were they possessed? And if the latter, possessed by what?
Based on months of interviews, court documentation, and correspondence with the killers themselves, The City of the Living is not only a fast-paced, revelatory thriller in the style of Lisa Taddeo’s Animal it is also a descent into the dark heart of Rome—a city that is unlivable and yet teeming with life, overrun by rats and wild animals, and plagued by corruption, drugs, and violence. Yet, the Eternal City is also a place that, more than any other in the world, seems to inspire a sense of absolute freedom in its inhabitants.
Proceeding in concentric circles, Nicola Lagioia leads us through a maze of betrayed expectations, sexual confusion, inability to grow up, economic grievances, crises of identity—progressively tightening the focus of the analysis to locate the breaking point after which anything is possible. As hypnotic as Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City, an heir to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, and destined to cast on spell on fans of the Morbid podcast, The City of the Living is Nicola Lagioia’s most gripping, bestselling, and critically acclaimed novel to-date. Razor-sharp, unputdownable, devastating, it is the story not only of a crime but of human nature itself; of the tension between responsibility and guilt, between the drive to oppress and the desire to be free; of who we are and who we can become.
One of Italy’s most critically acclaimed contemporary novelists, Nicola Lagioia has been the recipient of the Volponi, Straniero, and Viareggio awards, in addition to the Strega. In 2010 he was named one of Italy’s best writers under forty. He has been a jury member of the Venice Film Festival and is the program director of the Turin Book Fair. Lagioia is a contributor to Italy’s most prominent culture pages. He was born in Bari, and lives in Rome. Ferocity is his English-language debut.