'With the open-hearted rashness that belongs to every true writer, Saviano returns to tell the story of the fierce and grieving heart of Naples.' Elena Ferrante
In Naples, a new kind of gang rules the streets: the ‘Paranze’, the ‘Children’s Gangs’, groups of teenage boys who divide their time between Facebook or playing Call of Duty on their PlayStations and patrolling the streets armed with pistols and AK-47s, terrorizing local residents in order to mark out the territories of their Mafia bosses.
Roberto Saviano's eye-opening novel The Piranhas tells the story of the rise of one such gang and its leader, Nicolas – known to his friends and enemies as the ‘Maharajah’. But Nicolas’s ambitions reach far beyond doing other men’s bidding: he wants to be the one giving orders, calling the shots, and ruling the city. But the violence he is accustomed to wielding and witnessing soon spirals out of his control . . .
Famous for his expos of the Campagnian mafia (Gomorrah), Saviano now offers a novel to color in the outlines, conjuring one bravura personality and the violence he unleashes to gain a piece of the action in Naples. Fifteen-year-old Nicolas Fiorillo is the ruthless ringleader of his paranza, a gang that travels by motor scooter wresting control of concentric neighborhoods from rival gangs among the Camorra. Saviano chronicles the gang's ascent, from sidling up to middlemen to taking over their territory. The reader grows ever more appalled by the boys' increasingly unemotional acts of intimidation and their wanton stirring up of mayhem. Saviano makes clear that the gang's trajectory from selling hashish to target practice on immigrants would be impossible without Nicolas, whose Machiavellian behavior toward his family proves no less callous than it is toward his friends. Nicolas is willing to sacrifice people for power, and the denouement of the story is gut-wrenching proof that, for him, the end justifies the means. But the story suffers from too many unrealized characters, as well as the frustrating inclusion of both Italian and English dialogue next to one another in the text. This valiant novelization of an inhumane world is overcrowded and overlong.