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  • Writer's pictureSerena Piccoli

God's mountain - Erri De Luca

Updated: May 8

Montedidio or God’s mountain (the English translation of the Italian title) is an international bestseller, says Penguin Publishing group that has published it in its English translation. There are hundreds of reasons why it is a very much beloved book.

Here is the Publisher's Synopsis:

"This is a story told by a boy in his thirteenth year, recorded in his secret diary. His life is about to change; his world, about to open.

He lives in Montedidio-God's Mountain-a cluster of alleys in the heart of Naples. He brings a paycheck home every Saturday from Mast'Errico's carpentry workshop where he sweeps the floor. He is on his way to becoming a man-his boy's voice is abandoning him. His wooden boomerang is neither toy nor tool, but something in between. Then there is Maria, the thirteen-year-old girl who lives above him and, like so many girls, is wiser than he. She carries the burden of a secret life herself. She'll speak to him for the first time this summer. There is also his friendship with a cobbler named Rafaniello, a Jewish refugee who has escaped the horrors of the Holocaust, who has no idea how long he's been on this earth, and who is said to sprout wings for a blessed few.

It is 1963, a young man's summer of discovery. A time for a boy with innocent hands and a pure heart to look beyond the ordinary in everyday things to see the far-reaching landscape, and all of its possibilities, from a rooftop terrace on God's Mountain."

You can buy the book here

Erri De Luca is a prominent Italian prolific novelist, poet, playwright, essaysit and an activist who was born in Naples, "a city of blood",

Montedidio reads like a fable. Its title comes from a lively, noisy, colorful Neapolitan neighborhood named after God’s mountain in Jerusalem, a thirteen-year old boy-narrator writes his passage from boyhood to puberty on a scroll of paper, given to him from a printer in Montedidio.

The young boy—who is never named—is the apprentice of a carpenter and fisherman, Mast’Errico, who speaks only Neapolitan.

The boy receives a boomerang from his father on his thirteenth birthday, who in turn got it from a sailor. He practices gripping his boomerang for the big day when he will throw it from the highest rooftop terrace in Montedidio that overlooks the sea below and Mount Vesuvius in the background.

On this same terrace, he meets and discovers love thanks to Maria the budding adolescent-narrator practices making love to Maria, a very young but wise girl.

The protagonist makes friends with a shoemaker, Don Rafaniello, who once was “Rav Daniel,” a former rabbi, a Holocaust survivor who on his way to Palestine stopped in Naples to repair the shoes of the poor people. There are a lot of similarities between the two cities and the two languages: Neapolitan and Yiddish. Rafaniello has a hunchback, and from his hump he is growing a pair of wings. On New Year’s eve, on the terrace in Montedidio, while Naples explodes in New Year’s eve celebrations, the winged Rafaniello flies off to Jerusalem while the boy, now a man with a manly voice, finally throws his boomerang before making love to Maria. The whole book is very poetic, deep and lighthearted at the same time. Highly recommended.


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