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Ferocity by Nicola Lagioia review – layers of darkness and corruption

Author: Lettie Kennedy
Newspaper: The Observer
Date: Oct 15 2017

Vittorio Salvemini is a man’s man in the old sense: a wealthy property developer from the Pugliese city of Bari with dynastic ambitions and few scruples. When his beautiful, doomed daughter, Clara, is found dead in an apparent suicide, her cuckoo-in-the-nest half-brother, Michele, feels bound to avenge her; however, as the circumstances of Clara’s death emerge, so too does the cancerous source of Vittorio’s success. Nicola Lagioia’s English-language debut comes from the publisher of Elena Ferrante and opens a new window on to southern Italy. The downbeat towns of Lagioia’s Puglia are dominated by towering industrial buildings, corrupt officials and local kingpins whose women are either stony-faced matriarchs or virgin-whores, while around the novel’s human drama crowds a natural world red in tooth and claw. Ferocity is a portrait of a family tragedy, but also at its heart explores two competing visions of humanity: one ferocious and deterministic, the other transcendent and free-willed.