Sunken City by Marta Barone | Book Review

Sunken City by the Italian writer, Marta Barone is a spellbinding noir-memoir exploring the meaning of personal memory versus historical records, family relationships especially those between fathers and daughters, the quest for one’s roots, nostalgia for missed opportunities and relationships with the backdrop of contemporary and especially the 1970s Italy. It is also a portrayal of a family, singular lives affected by the turbulent historic events.

In the book, a young lonely, bookish woman attempts to investigate her late father’s story in order to, in some sense, reclaim her own identity and roots. She finds out that her gentle father, Leonardo Barone was arrested in 1982 for being a member of an armed band and sentenced to prison. She goes on to interview her father’s friends, militants; she consults and investigates state archives and documents from her father’s trial. With time the picture of her father that emerges is the one of complexity and many contradictions.

It is important to remember that the period of the 1970s, so called Years of Lead in Italy, was characterised by extreme levels of violence and acts of terrorism committed by fractions of far left and far right. During that period many Italians were taken hostages, kidnapped, murdered, bombings were common in the name of ideology.

Sunken City is a novel of an extraordinary depth and sophistication and it requires a far more profound and detailed review than a few sentences that I am currently sharing here. I will upload a longer review soon as I need to reread some parts that I speed read.

This book will be cherished by anyone who wants to understand more about turbulent Years of Lead era in Italy and how historic events of this magnitude affect ordinary lives.

I want to profusely thank a wonderful team at Serpentstail Publishing House for sending me this extraordinary book by Marta Barone. I enjoyed it immensely. I completely devoured this book.

I highly recommend it to everyone. I’m ashamed to say I did not know much about Years of Lead era in Italy (except for just a few general facts) and this book provides such a good glimpse into that period and mentality of people affected.


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