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Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933372613
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372617
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lakhous's prize-winning second novel is a social satire and murder mystery concerning an immigrant-filled apartment complex in Rome. After a murder in the building elevator, each occupant of the Piazza Vittorio—among these, Parviz Mansoor Samadi, an Iranian chef who detests pizza; Benedetta Esposito, an aging concierge from Naples; Iqbal Amir Allah, a Bangladeshi shopkeeper—gets a chapter to relate the truth as he or she knows it (or wants it known), apparently to the police. The odd man out, and the main suspect, is Amedo, a man believed by his neighbors to be a native Italian. The tenants are by turns outraged, disillusioned, defensive and afraid, and their frequently wild testimony teases out intriguing psychological and social insight alongside a playful whodunit plot, exposing the power of fear, racial prejudice and cultural misconception to rob a neighborhood of its humanity. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

A cacophony of voices fills this novel, whose putative plot concerns the murder of a man known as the Gladiator in an apartment building in Rome. One by one, the neighbors offer their querulous, seemingly tangential testimony: an Iranian immigrant explains how he sewed his mouth shut when his petition for refugee status was denied; a lonely Peruvian maid confesses, �The TV is my new family�; a grief-stricken woman accuses Chinese restaurateurs of kidnapping her dog; a Milanese professor sees in the daily desecration of the building�s elevator (by litter, by urine) the decline of civilization. The author�s real subject is the heave and crush of modern, polyglot Rome, and he renders the jabs of everyday speech with such precision that the novel feels exclaimed rather than written.
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
The ending will be disappointing to some but not to all.
Jean Clara Miller
A deceptively intelligent un-novel that brings you a cast of interesting characters, with sections of charmingly unreliable narration from each.
M. DELORENZO
A must read for those who want to explore new writers and something different.
Vivek Tejuja

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
(3.5 stars) Algerian author Amara Lakhous, now an Italian resident, pens a sly satire of an immigrant's life in Italy, exploring the murder of a young man in the elevator of an apartment building adjacent to Piazza Vittorio to show the hidden and not-so-hidden prejudices of Roman residents toward "outsiders." The victim, Lorenzo Manfredini, a young hood also known as the Gladiator, had repeatedly defaced and urinated in the building's elevator, earning the enmity of every resident. As residents and local merchants tell their stories to a police inspector, their hidden agendas and casual resentments against immigrants surface. Amedeo, a resident uniformly admired by everyone, thought to be an Italian volunteer who helps immigrants deal with Roman bureaucracy, is sought for the crime. No one has seen him since the murder.

Lakhous cleverly creates twelve unique voices as each person tells "the truth according to...", alternating these separate voices with "wails" from Amadeo as he comments on what the residents say. Amedeo, who speaks Italian like a native, provides a running commentary on Roman life, pointing up the contrasts between what people say to other Italians and what they say and do about their immigrant neighbors behind their backs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. DELORENZO on December 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
A deceptively intelligent un-novel that brings you a cast of interesting characters, with sections of charmingly unreliable narration from each. A sort of Roman "Tales of the City", it takes you through the improbable intersections of the characters' lives as you learn which character is the murderer. Brilliant and very Italian.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alston Fitts on May 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
Amiri Lakhous' CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS succeeds both as a whodunit, a humorous novel and a shrewd analysis of the "clash of civilizations" in Rome. Lakhous himself had to flee his native Algeria because he wasn't "Muslim enough;" but of course his being Muslim at all unnerves many simple souls in his adopted country of Italy. Another writer might have become shrill and bitter; but Lakhous sees the humorous side of the relentless misunderstandings which propell his narrative. His Italian characters themselves illustrate a variety of regional cultures -- I was much amused (as an Alabamian) to learn that the bustling citizens of Milan feel about the laid-back residents of Naples roughly what New Yorkers feel about residents of the Deep South! I look forward with great interest to more novels by this fascinating Algerian-Italian author, who has the rare gift of entertaining while he informs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roman G on March 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book was very enjoyable and the characters were a blast. Definitely filled with enough comedic moments to keep you reading until the end. But the end is where the fun ends too. The last few pages were a true disappointment and made the book feel kind of like a waste. I know I won't be picking it up again, though it was worth reading through once.
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By M. Tauros on October 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's a good story and a good novel. I really enjoy Lakhous's work on the lives of immigrants and native Italian living together.
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