We The Italians | Italian books: I'm not scared

Italian books: I'm not scared

Italian books: I'm not scared

  • WTI Magazine #175 May 18, 2024
  • 117

I’m not scared (Io non ho paura) is a book first published in 2001 and written by Italian author Niccolò Ammaniti. He was born in Rome in 1966. The first books he wrote were characterized as pulp genre and I’m not scared is the one that put him in the spotlight. The same author will turn the book into a movie directed by Gabriele Salvatores in 2003.

It has been defined as “a small but unforgettable masterpiece of Italian fiction. A fast-paced narrative enlivened by an adventurous but extremely realistic atmosphere, a tight and looming rhythm. The story of fear and great courage.”

A book to be read all in one go, it hasn’t only become a classic in modern Italian literature, but it also gained international acclaim. As a matter of fact, it is Ammaniti’s first book to be published in the United States.

It is a story that centers around a very young protagonist, who finds himself face to face with fear, the bad and the evil, and still finds in him the courage and the strength to risk it all to defend life affirming values such as friendship, solidarity and respect for life itself. 

In this book, Niccolò Ammaniti delves into the personal path that leads to the discovery of oneself, the necessity to face risks and that moment in which you are forced to say goodbye to a playful and innocent time of your life.

The main character of this story is Michele Amitrano, a nine-year-old boy who suddenly stumbles on a secret so big and dark that he can’t tell anyone. He will need to resort to the strength hidden in his childhood fantasies, while readers witness a double story: on one hand, there is the narrative seen through Michele’s eyes and on the other hand there is the tragic story involving the adults of the small countryside town in which the whole sequence of events takes place.

“In this landscape dominated by the contrast between the dazzling light of the sun and the darkness of the night, Ammaniti alternates between comedy, the world of child relationships, the language and funny wisdom of children, their tenacity, the strength of friendship, and the drama of betrayal in clever twists and turns.”

The story takes place in the summer of 1978 and is set in a small rural Italian village in the South, called Acqua Traverse.

“A story of fears, the childhood ones, made of monsters hidden in the dark, and the real ones, made of criminal men. Michael will have to come to terms with both, without understanding the former, but heroically confronting the latter.”

Michele spends his days running around on his bicycle in the countryside with his friends. One day, he loses a bet with his friends and therefore is forced to enter a scary abandoned house in the open countryside.

Here he sees a kid trapped in a hole inside the house. The little boy is tied and is lying on a mattress. He is completely dirty and looks like a monster. His name is Filippo and is as old as Michele.

From this moment on, the two boys develop a friendship and Michele visits Filippo every day.

Michele doesn’t fully understand the extent and the seriousness of the situation. It’s something that is just too big and he knows he can’t tell anyone. He believes that Filippo is his twin brother, hidden by his parents.

But what is hidden behind this tragic discovery is far more frightening, dark, and sick. And it also hits close to home for Michele as his own father is not only directly involved in this criminal scheme, but he is also responsible for it.

Michele will go to great lengths to save Filippo, but at his own personal expense. He will have to pay a very high price for the incredible courage he showed.

“A fast-paced narrative enlivened by an adventurous, yet extremely realistic, tight, and looming pace. The story of fear and great courage.”