Theater of Cruelty

The Child Mafia in Naples

The clan of the children
Forfatter: Roberto Saviano
Forlag: Carl Hanser Verlag (Tyskland)
Roberto Saviano's latest novel is no fiction. It is a true-to-life report of a society that, to date, has not been able to take hold of itself.


Some youngsters are racing around Naples on mopeds. They are out on a conquest voyage. They all have nicknames – Maraja, Dentino, Lollipop and Drone. They have branded shoes and tattoos. The road from pusher to killer is short. The law applies: eat or be eaten. On the rooftops, they practice guns and rifles, aim for rubbish barrels and windows. Soon, human life counts less than a broken promise. They feel immortal until the brilliance of their turbo life blends them.

Saviano has once again drilled into the matter. It is still his lot to reveal one of the world's most notorious criminal gangs. But can't we do all this before? The mafia power structure, the mantra of violence "blood must be washed with blood", the rituals, codes, omertà-the confession of silence? Whoever has read Saviano's other books, Gomorrah and Zero, Zero, Zero, or watch the filming on cinema or television, is at least well-oriented. So what's new here? First, the author leads us inside a boys' room that few have the key to. Here there is no protected way into the adult world. One is born directly into reality, with no time to grow into it. An either-or-world. Either you take the inside swing on the smoke, or it takes the inside swing on you. The one who works is one loser. Get rich, or die in the endeavor. The highest goal is simply to command, be the boss. Like 16-year-old Nicolas / Maraja – children's clan capo - can quote from Macchiavellis Prince: If you are feared, you are respected. That's what counts.

The only thing this is reminiscent of is the child soldiers in the world's conflict zones.

Children Mafia. Second, the camorra is far more dangerous today than it was in 2006, then Gomorrah came on the market. Saviano and Napoli Police Chief Guido Marino agree. They are called baby mafia has started a new war in Naples old town. Marino doesn't like the term. "Baby? They are murderers. Small is just the punishment these youth offenders are sentenced to. It's a descendant war. The old people are in prison, and the young people want to toughen up, make their own rules and new regimes. They kill innocents, they kill randomly because they make mistakes, and they kill to terrorize. "It's a jungle, something anyone can confirm. Outside the Naples train station, tourists can buy Beretta guns for 500 euros.

The kingdom of the child mafia is the district of Forcella. Saviano presents it in poetic order: “Forcella is historical matter. Living matter. Inside, in the furrows of the alleys, like a face marked by the wind, the meaning of the name hides. Forcella comes off forca – fork, gallows, constriction… Something unknown, which always shows where the road begins, but never where you get to, if you get there. " A neighborhood like Forcella is a claustrophobic universe. There are no outdoor recreation facilities here. People spend most of their time in crowded indoor environments, where they indulge in futile TV watching, video games and social media – which are actually more isolating than social. A life that blocks the development of outgoing, contact-creating, cognitive, emotional and relational skills. In addition, there is a disease that Naples shares with the rest of the nation's perpetually crackling social system – a political and economic gray area, where corruption, legitimacy, pure and dirty affairs mix. It's all a dangerous mix. Where are the role models?

To protect the innocence. The paranza consists of a boy gang, where the ten-year-old, Biscottino ("Little Biscuit") of ten years, finally gets the honor of blowing the head of an enemy. He is proud – finally a man. The only thing this is reminiscent of is the child soldiers in the world's conflict zones. With empty eyes, empty hearts and a one-dimensional brutality they confuse loyalty. Towards the end of a furious race to conquer power, money and honor goes as it should: The child mafia loses control. It leads to a fratricidal murder – a murder that allows the innocent to enter the scene, lets the shock and sadness take hold of the minds for a while.

Saviano has once again drilled into the matter. It is still his lot to reveal one of the world's most notorious criminal gangs.

After Saviano made "heroes" off in cammoristi, created fashion and idols through his literary figures, one wonders if he should have kept his mouth shut. For the author himself, life would undoubtedly be much easier if he was not on the camorra's death list, but otherwise? What is the subtitle of this novel? That a dystopian society, with deep roots in criminal history, paves the way for a sad layer of losers with no hope of a brighter future. A society that is not even able to protect innocence. A writer does not rule over good and evil. It makes reality. An author rules over the Word. Like when Saviano allows for a mother's pain, a mother who has just lost her child in the most meaningless way: “In the hours that followed, Mena did not shed a tear. She took care of her husband, who did not stop crying, in training clothes on the bench at the hospital, on the stool at the police, on the church bench. (…) Sometimes she glanced at Nicolas. When she was left alone with her son and husband in the apartment, she finally freed herself from the red dress, with two buttons in the back. She spread it out on the table, looked at it, grabbed it, then began to tear it to pieces, first along the seams, then wildly in the fabric, tore it into small pieces, and then she let out a scream – a metallic, rusty scream – that got the man to put the cry in his throat. In the next few days, it was reported on television news: Camorra murders boy under statue of knight from Toledo by William Kentridge. "

Ranveig Eckhoff
Ranveig Eckhoff
Eckhoff is a regular reviewer for Ny Tid.

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