Italy, 1978—the annus horribilis during which the country was overwhelmed by leftist terrorism, including the political kidnapping of Christian Democratic leader Aldo Moro—provides the framework of this novel by journalist and novelist Vasta. The narrator, 11-year-old Sicilian “Nimbus” (whose circle includes similarly pseudonymously named youngsters), is a precocious wordsmith who uses references to Italian popular culture, comics, movies, and television to contextualize the action; unfortunately, these references will lack resonance for non-Italian readers. On the other hand, the near-feral existence of the group may remind some of Russell Banks’ Lost Memory of Skin (2011). As Nimbus and his friends begin to emulate the Red Brigades, the novel will increasingly disturb all readers. This is uncomfortable reading. Tentatively recommended for those with a strong interest in European fiction. --Mark Levine
Time on My Hands can be seen as a politicised Lord of the Flies ... This is sophisticated, fascinating fiction. Independent on Sunday A taut, gripping psychological thriller. Catholic Herald Hunt's translation is outstanding ... the text fizzes. Vasta's novel is a gift to wordplay, riddled with allegory and literary influences. TLS Vasta still gets across the sense of a stagnating country that won't address the issues facing it, and of childhood dynamics against a backdrop of real political turbulence. Herald
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