From Domenico Starnone, the Strega-prize winning author of Ties (2017), a stylish metaphysical novel about the art of teaching, the fear of terrorism, the sinuous paths that self-delusion lead us down, and the travails of growing old.
Mild-mannered retired teacher Domenico Stasi learns that Nina, a former student of his, is being held as a suspected terrorist. His first thought is to contact her–only her innocence can reassure him that his teachings have not contributed to the creation of a monster. But instead of the comforting proclamations of innocence Stasi was hoping to hear, Nina coolly alludes to her guilt. She then entrusts him with a simple task that soon turns deadly serious. A lethal game has now been put into play and nothing can stop its course.
Yet matters may not be entirely as they appear. Into the story steps Domenico Starnone–author, retired teacher himself, character in his own fictional world–and First Execution becomes an exhilarating voyage to that murky terrain where fiction and real life mix. Central to this novel is one of history's most enduring philosophical dilemmas: to what extent do we bear the responsibility for actions taken or not taken? Domenico Starnone will discover through his encounter with Domenico Stasi that even a lifetime of commitment to firm principles cannot provide an unassailable answer to this question, nor can it appease a man's guilty conscience. Indeed, in this electrifying literary novel, only one thing appears certain: no one is innocent.
Domenico Starnone is an Italian writer, screenwriter and journalist. He was born in Naples and lives in Rome. He is the author of thirteen works of fiction, including First Execution (Europa, 2009), Via Gemito, winner of Italy's most prestigious literary prize, the Strega.