Short Book Reviews: The Father And The Foreigner, The Castle Of Crossed Destinies & I Giorni Dell'Altra

Hello everyone,

today I'm going to briefly review three books by three Italian authors. Enjoy!

The Father And The Foregner by Giancarlo De Cataldo
The Father And The Foreigner tells the story of Diego, a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Justice in Rome, and his friendship with the arab Walid. The two men come from very different worlds but have one important thing in common: they are both fathers of handicapped sons. But while Diego resents his son's condition and finds it hard to get to grips with it, Walid teaches him to accept and love his child the way he is. But that's not the only way their friendship will transform Diego's life. Walid leads Diego into an "another Rome" he never knew existed, into a city of immigrants, into a world of intrigue where people act beyond the law. The book explores some very interesting themes such as children's disability and how it affects their families, the relationship between two men who comesfrom very different cultures and the way immigrants live in big cities. However, none of these themes is explored in depth. The book is mostly a succession of facts and they are not always well-explained. This big intrigue Walid is involved in, for instance, is never revealed in detail. There is also very little psychological introspection so you don't get to know what the characters feel and, as a result, the reader finds it difficult to connect to and relate with them. Overall, a story with great and powerful, but poorly developed, themes.
Available at: Amazon.com
Rating: 3/5

The Castle Of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino
The Castle Of Crossed Destinies is a literary work based on tarots. The tarots are used by the characters, who find themselves dumb struck in a castle first and in a tavern later, to tell their own stories. The characters don't know what the symbols on the tarot cards mean. They simply interpret them as they need to to make them fit into their stories. And these stories are all quite fantastical and, sometimes quite dark and haunting. And they're all intertwined together. The overall effect is eerie and dreamlike. However, while I love the concept of the book, the execution, like the stories, are quite dull. I enjoyed the first few tales but after that, the book became quite boring. Overall, it's a nice literary experiment, but not a very engaging read.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 2/5

I Giorni Dell'Altra by Maria Venturi
I'm not sure if I Giorni Dell'Altra (which means The Other's Days) by Maria Venturi was ever translated into English (or any other language for that matter), but in any case you're not missing out much. The book tells the story of Caterina, a young woman who's living her first important love story. His name is Giacomo, a man who's much older than her, works with her father and is separated from his wife. Caterina's father owns a cosmetic company, but when the launch of a new product doesn't go as well as planned, he commits suicide, leaving the family to deal both with the pain and grief of his loss and the disastrous economic situation he has left behind. Caterina will have to find the strength to deal with all this and more. Her relationship with Giacomo isn't without problems either, but in this case I couldn't sympathize with Caterina. She's very jealous of Giacomo's ex-wife and of the fact that the two are still very good friends. She can't understand why his ex-wife would still confide his problems to Giacomo instead than cutting all ties with him and moving on with her life. A very modern point of view, which I have personally never agreed with. I believe that, although you can fall out of love with people, it's hard to cut them off from your life after they've been such an important part of it for so long, unless of course they've hurt you really badly. I've always found jealousy very petty and annoying and, although I'm not immune to it (how can you be when you love someone?), I think you should trust your partner and keep jealousy to yourself, and only act on it when you have a serious reason to do so. Just because two people have loved each other at some point doesn't mean they're ready to jump in bed together whenever they meet. Sometimes they've just remained friends so concentrate on your relationship instead than worrying about something that's happening only in your head. The book is also very short and narrated in a straightforward and rushed way. Just like The Father And The Foreigner, this too seems like a narration of bare facts, where the various relationships and events aren't explored in depth, which further contributed to spoil the book for me.
Available at: bol.it
Rating: 3/5

Have you read these books? What do you think of them?