Book Review: The Twenty Days of Turin by Giorgio de Maria
The Twenty Days of Turin
Author: Giorgio de Maria
Translator: Ramon Glazov
Originally Published: 1975
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
In the spare wing of a church-run sanatorium, some zealous youths create “the Library,” a space where lonely citizens can read one another’s personal diaries and connect with like-minded souls in “dialogues across the ether.” But when their scribblings devolve into the ugliest confessions of the macabre, the Library’s users learn too late that a malicious force has consumed their privacy and their sanity. As the city of Turin suffers a twenty-day “phenomenon of collective psychosis” culminating in nightly massacres that hundreds of witnesses cannot explain, the Library is shut down and erased from history. That is, until a lonely salaryman decides to investigate these mysterious events, which the citizenry of Turin fear to mention. Inevitably drawn into the city’s occult netherworld, he unearths the stuff of modern nightmares: what’s shared can never be unshared.
An allegory inspired by the grisly neo-fascist campaigns of its day, The Twenty Days of Turin has enjoyed a fervent cult following in Italy for forty years. Now, in a fretful new age of “lone-wolf” terrorism fueled by social media, we can find uncanny resonances in Giorgio De Maria’s vision of mass fear: a mute, palpitating dread that seeps into every moment of daily existence. With its stunning anticipation of the Internet—and the apocalyptic repercussions of oversharing—this bleak, prescient story is more disturbingly pertinent than ever.
Brilliantly translated into English for the first time by Ramon Glazov, The Twenty Days of Turin establishes De Maria’s place among the literary ranks of Italo Calvino and beside classic horror masters such as Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. Hauntingly imaginative, with visceral prose that chills to the marrow, the novel is an eerily clairvoyant magnum opus, long overdue but ever timely.
Another random Gene’s Books find; apparently it’s an Italian classic that has been translated into English. I looked it up and I guess it’s a satirical work on the politics of Italy about 40 years ago … and since I don’t know much of 40 year old Italian politics, I don’t think I understood it as I should have. But even just reading it as a simple story, it definitely made me think! We all joke about not wanting to deal with people or get close to them; but if a system was developed where we could check out the diaries of our neighbors and they could read ours, would we be closer as a community, or would we terrify each other? This book is definitely a thinker but I’m really glad I read it! And that cover!