The Loneliness of the Murderer

Rizzoli, 2016, pp. 200, € 18

 

La solitudine dell'assassino

Northern Italy, Trieste. In 1968, a mysterious sixty-year-old librarian, Carlo Malaguti, kills a stranger. There is no apparent connection between the killer and his victim. The state-appointed attorney, an intriguing woman with a hidden past, senses that the killer might be the victim of a conspiracy. But at the trial Malaguti refuses to defend himself and gets a life sentence.

Twenty-one years later, Luca Rainer, an esteemed translator of Shakespeare and Rilke, unhappy in his fickle love affairs and lost in a fruitless search for himself, meets the murderer who is about to be released from prison for good conduct and old age. Rainer is the son of the lawyer who defended Malaguti, an absent mother, who was in and out of psychiatric institutes.

The two men become close friends, which forces Rainer to explore the old man’s past. Malaguti is still imperious despite his years and just as bold in his thoughts. The past hides a terrible secret, which has to do with the death of a Jewish girl wanted by the SS, with whom Malaguti was desperately in love in the spring of 1944. Was Malaguti the one who betrayed her? Yes, but under torture, making it impossible to determine his guilt. Rainer will agree to tell his friend’s story, and by “translating” it he will become the narrator who discovers himself as a citizen of the world’s labyrinth.

The Loneliness of the Murderer is a literary novel with the rhythm of a thriller. The details slowly reveal the whirlpool of darkness that envelops the soul of the librarian evoking the tragedy of the Shoah (along with some of its historic antecedents) and, with the dramatic power of Greek theater, it binds together the fate of a myriad of characters.

The book is an ode to life and its inescapable beauty and energy, mixing love and loyalty, cowardice and betrayal, fear, courage, escape and passion.

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