Michele, one of the children of a poor godforsaken village in Puglia, discovered in a covered hole in the ground at a dilapidated farmhouse a delicate, pale boy, chained, frightened, dirty and speechless. At first he thinks he’s a kind of ghost, so bodiless and bloodless, the careworn child affects him. On subsequent visits to Michele approaches the obvious imprisoned peers cautiously and supplies it soft so that fear and anxiety in both.
Michele suspects from the start that something may be wrong, and silent intuitively about his secret.
By chance he learns from the television news: Filippo called his new friend; he comes from a wealthy northern Italian family and was recently kidnapped. His desperate parents and the police are looking for him frantically.
Anyone who likes kidnapped the child? Who holds it captive in this hole like an animal? The answer reached Michele in small portions, which he open up gradually and will have to digest: The whole village appears to be involved – the young men as well as Michele’s own father (a truck driver) and the boastful, rather “uncle” Sergio disgusting, a criminal who comes to power, threats and violence smells and spend a few days to visit.
The ransom should also Michele’s family help to leave their hopeless home to start a better life. But what price will have to pay Filippo for it?
The detective story controls in a steady voltage curve to a showdown-end, but is not the most important thing about this wonderful book.
Much more important and poignant are the processes in Michele’s inner life, his emotions, his change, his maturation in the face of bitter insights. He is exposed to enormous loads – the discovery of the prisoners, the unmasking of his admired and beloved father as a common child kidnapper, who struggle to preserve his secret, the struggle for the right decisions … A real story of initiation because in the end Michele has learned a lot about life, death of good and evil.
Ammanitis truly masterful achievement is that his novel despite these existential issues and the depressing scene (poverty, violence, suffering, boredom) comes broody on either side. From Michele’s first-person perspective, the plot develops in a straight line and the characters are recognized immediately; the little narrator takes only once, as they are, even if it will cost him overcome to cope with new circumstances. For this, the author makes perfect the narrative of a nine year old awakened: simple vocabulary, something colloquial, direct emotion, short, often incomplete sentences, many directly from the life gripped dialogues. The identification with this protagonist is very easy: We cheer, suffer, worry and look forward with it
Now, Michele but also an exceptional boy, and further contributes to the magic of this novel at. , Simply touching are the scenes in which the responsible, sensible, always reasonably active boy cares naturally to his little sister Maria, helps her out of trouble when it has once again broken her glasses (for a new there is no money, so it is) patched repeatedly, they never let you down or pushed aside. If he holds with his mates bicycle race or playing hide and seek, cycling with them or even solely by the magical night, we feel in a different time offset – without a computer, Internet and media constant stream, but with alert senses, competition and compassion.
A special happiness have fallen to this book by Gabriele Salvatores filmed it in 2003 in the vast, undulating fields of Basilicata (at Melfi) great congenially. My tip: First, read the novel, and check out after the movie – which usually leads to frustration, doubles the pleasure in this case. Ammanitis most beautiful novel is published in German under two titles ” I’m not afraid ” and ” the men of the hill”; but both are only available as remainders.