Saviano, Garrone, Gomorrah: Neorealism and Noir in the Land of the Camorra

In the opening chapter of Gomorrah, Roberto Saviano describes the arrival of shipping containers from China loaded with dead bodies spilling out in the port of Naples. “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.” Just a few lines later, Saviano reveals his source: “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…” (2006:3-4).

This example illustrates how, throughout his personal journey into the realm of the Neapolitan-based organized crime system called Camorra, Saviano does not distinguish the author’s subjective gaze from that of his unofficial sources. Instead, he creates an eye/I dynamic, that is, an oscillation between centered and autonomous subjectivity. The incorporation of unanticipated viewpoints such as that of the port crane operator allows Saviano to break the boundaries between the journalistic inquest, a whistleblower’s account, and the political pamphlet. To embrace multiple identities is an ethical position, a rejection of a politically correct point of view on the Italian Southern Question.

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Saviano, Garrone, Gomorrah: Neorealism and Noir in the Land of the Camorra

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