Publisher: Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A.
The Mussolini Canal is the lynchpin underlying the most ambitious and monumental public work ever promoted by Benito Mussolini, the drainage of the Pontine Marshes, South of Rome. In just a few years, the Duce personally oversees the construction of the cities that will become the symbol of the Fascist Regime: Latina, Sabaudia and many others. Thousands of people from northern Italy are brought south to settle this brand new land. It is an exodus. Farmers from the northern regions of Emilia, Veneto and Friuli abandon their homes to live the Fascist dream of patriotic grandeur.. Entire families migrate: grandmothers, used to herding the livestock, lead the way at the helm of their carts; men as strong as bulls; brash women, who dance and laugh with the men at Harvest Home; troops of children of every age.
The Peruzzis, the heroes of this extraordinary saga, are among these thousands settlers. They are brought south by the courage and charisma of Uncle Pericle, a man who has gained the respect of the Fascist party through bold acts of bravery; yet a man who does not take orders. With him, descending to the new land, are his brothers and their wives; and his old parents, his mother, the beloved Grandma Peruzzi, as sweet as she can be merciless in governing the home with an iron hand, deciding the rules that all have to obey without a murmur. And a multitude of sisters, some good-hearted and compassionate, others treacherous and vicious like snakes.
There is Armida, too, Pericle’s wife, the most beautiful woman in the village, married off to the bravest of men. Big-hearted, willing to live without reservations or fear a tragic love. Different, strange, something of a witch, constantly surrounded by her bees, which talk to her and whizz around her hissing words of caution and admonishment. Useless foresights, just like grandma’s ominous dreams, that won’t save her from her own fate. And finally Paride, the favourite nephew, righteous and kind, yet destined, just like his namesake hero, to be the cause of the calamity that falls upon the Peruzzis.
CANALE MUSSOLINI is a grandiose poem that interweaves the dramatic unpredictable stories of its protagonists with the events, no less tormented, of half a century of Italian history. Antonio Pennacchi recounts Italy’s controversial, yet epic past from an ironic and unexpected angle, while showing profound sympathy for his characters, for the three generations of Peruzzis who fight, stubbornly and ferociously, against the unrelenting strokes of a merciless fate.
Walking alongside such masters as Steinbeck, García Márquez and Guimãraes Rosa, this novel stands as a masterpiece of storytelling.
Antonio Pennacchi(born in Latina in 1950), an heretic, uncompromising, powerful storyteller, was a factory worker until the age of fifty. This book has been crowned winner of Italy’s most prestigious literary prize, Premio Strega 2010.
Hardcover with flap
Literary Fiction, 460 pages