A novel which tells the story of a life saved by Shakespeare and a love of books.
In life we can lose our way, and often do. But redemption is never impossible. At the age of fourteen Salvatore Striano had war in his head, cocaine in his blood and two pistols stuffed down his socks. He was one of the leaders of the “Teste matte”, a gang of wild boys who became Camorristi themselves in order to defend themselves against the Camorra. Those were years of street violence and bloodshed. Then came prison, before the age of thirty. His future seemed all mapped out. But it was at the lowest and most hopeless point that his life was transformed, thanks to a new all-embracing passion, thanks to the magical discovery of books and literature, and particularly of Shakespeare, who began to course through his veins like a drug which didn’t kill but redeemed. All this in a man who never went to school. The novel describes his rebirth, from the hellish environment of the Spanish prison of Valdemoro in Madrid, through the Italian prison of Rebibbia, down to the present day, when he is one of the most remarkable and respected Italian actors. This is a story about all of us – about the fear of falling, and of not being able to get up again if we do; about betrayal, forgiveness, revenge, the irresistible desire for freedom, the emotions of elation or sadness that we can feel when we are really alive, and the barrenness that pervades us when we allow ourselves to live according to the notion that everything has already been decided by someone else, somewhere else. La tempesta di Sasà is a book about the power of words and of literature, about the love of books, which can transform a person’s life. Sasà is living proof of this. His personal, all-consuming tempest is the truest, most beautiful testimony to it.
Salvatore Striano, born in 1972, has been many things. Born and raised in the heart of Naples, in one of the districts most closely controlled by organized crime, by the age of seven he was selling cigarettes in the lanes of the Spanish quarters. At the age of nine he stole lipstick and mascara in shopping centres and sold them to prostitutes, to whom he would lead the American soldiers who had just disembarked in the harbour. At fourteen he was selling cocaine and became one of the most charismatic figures of the Teste matte (the story he has told in the novel Teste matte, co-written with Guido Lombardi and published by Chiarelettere in 2014). Then came his flight from justice and his attempt to hide in Spain, his arrest, imprisonment, first in Madrid and then in Rebibbia, where he met a master, Fabio Cavalli, who led him to discover literature, Shakespeare and the theatre. Since then, having finally regained his freedom, he has played a Camorrista for Matteo Garrone (in Gomorra), a robber for Guido Lombardi (in Take Five) and many other characters, in the cinema and on TV. In 2012 came the ultimate triumph, with the film Cesare deve morire, based on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Golden Bear at the Berlin Festival). As in the little theatre of Rebibbia prison, once again Shakespeare has given a new direction to his life.
“THE TEMPEST IS ABOUT ALL OF US.”
“HE JESTS AT SCARS THAT NEVER FELT A WOUND.”
William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet
TRANSLATION RIGHTS SOLD TO:
Albin Michel (France)
Alma Littera (Lituania)