The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca is a fictional novel which takes place in the early 1950s. The story uses flashbacks to wartime Italy.
The publisher is giving away one copy for two winners of this novella— enter at the end of the post.
- 192 pages
- Publisher: Other Press
- ISBN: 1590514815
My rating for The Day Before Happiness – 5
The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca is a wonderfully suggestive book, which mince on words but not on details, selecting the perfect ones instead of spewing them off hoping to get one right. This is a character and image driven book which captures the souls of its narrator.
The prose is very lyrical in this tale of the search for happiness and whether one will find it or not. Don Gaetano, the father figure of the orphan narrator, is known to be able to read people’s thoughts. Whether he does have such a magical ability or is simply an observant, warm and understanding human being is one of the mysteries of the book.
The author’s observations are thought compelling and provocative. Mr. De Luca makes poignant observations which are both smart and expansive.
“[The Jews]are a belt around the waist of the world. With the holy book we are the leather strip that has been holding up the trousers ever since Adam realized he was naked. Many times the world has wanted to take the belt off and throw it away. It feels too tight.”
It is obvious that Mr. De Luca does not think of people as numbers. The author actually states that he doesn’t use the word “people” but “persons – I found that to be very profound. When you treat people like sheep or cattle, they stop being human beings. When one studies history it is quite obvious that the first step to genocide is to create a “herd” of people so the “sheep” you sent to do the killing won’t think of them as individuals.
Even though this is not a long book, it is full with details about life in Naples, people behavior and well developed characters. The most interesting stories, to me, were the popular uprising of the persons of Napoli against the German occupiers (knows as The Four Days of Naples/Quattro giornate di Napoli).
An intense book which gives a lot of credit to its readers believing they are capable of reading beyond the plot and between the lines. The book touches on many universal themes and does so with style and grace.
Don Gaetano, the superintendent of an apartment building in Naples, is protecting a young orphan after World War II. Don Gaetano is a generous man and gets attached to the young man telling him about the war and the liberation of the city by its inhabitants.
Don Gaetano can also read people’s thoughts and is aware that his young guest is haunted by the memories of a girl he met, who is Jewish yet still afraid to show her true self. Years later, when the girl returns, the young man must face his own demons.
Giveaway ends: November 29, 2011
US/Canada Shipping Addresses Only
Winners will have 24 hours to write back with their address, otherwise an alternate winner will be picked
Zohar – Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free.
Article first published as Book Review: The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca on Blogcritics.
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