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L'Espresso (Italy): "The pages of this book, discreetly peppered with Arabic words, Neapolitan dialect, roman slang, and proverbs from all over, burgeon with poignant nostalgia, candid naivety, and grotesque gaiety."

Date: Mar 17 2008

And So Ahmed has Become Amedeo
By Enzo Golino
L’Espresso (Italy)
May 26, 2006

The most original voice among immigrant writers in Italy today belongs to the thirty-five-year-old Amara Lakhous, Algerian, in Rome since 1995, two bachelors degrees, one Ph.D., journalist, passionate reader—and you can tell—of Gadda’s Awful Mess.

In his novel Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, released with a different title in his homeland and winner of Italy’s prestigious Flaiano Prize (2006), eleven characters recount their versions of the truth concerning events occurring in Esquilino, Rome’s teeming multiethnic neighborhood.

The pages of this book, discreetly peppered with Arabic words, Neapolitan dialect, roman slang, and proverbs from all over, burgeon with poignant nostalgia, candid naivety, and grotesque gaiety. The concierge and “her” elevator are woven together to create a metaphor for both the architectural and social fabric of the city.

Breathtaking bureaucratic hiccups, detestable prejudices, an episode of dog-napping, and the discovery of a homicide all mark the progressive Italianization of the Algerian-born Ahmed Salmi: for love of a woman, who he marries, he renounces his name (everyone calls him Amadeo) and even his mother tongue. “The Zingarelli dictionary is my bottle,” he confesses, “and Italian is my daily milk.”

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