Speaking at a press conference, Saviano expressed how hard the past two years have been living with constant round the clock protection and fear of the vengeful Camorra.
“It has been a very difficult period for me”.
Published in 2006, Gomorrah offers an unflinching exposé of Neapolitan organized crime and its function in the global economy. The book is a blend of journalism and auto-fiction which has come to be associated with the New Italian Epic literary genre.
Saviano’s relationship with organized crime is a deep-rooted and traumatic issue as he describes in an article published in the Washington Post in June:
“I saw my first murder victim when I was 13, on my way to school. My family lived in Casal di Principe, a town of about 20,000 not far from Naples — an area ruled by the Camorra, one of the most powerful criminal organizations in Italy.”
However, Saviano’s ‘strike back’ through his multi-million selling book has not come without a cost. Since the publication of Gomorrah, the Neapolitan Camorra have made extensive threats against his life, forcing the author into hiding.
In partnership with Salman Rushdie, who has also been the recipient of death threats after the publication of The Satanic Verses, Saviano participated in a discussion on Tuesday evening hosted by the Swedish Academy on ‘Freedom of speech and lawless violence’.
At the event, the authors discussed the need to improve safeguards for free speech, as Saviano stated:
“My words have deprived me of my freedom.”
The author has however also received plenty of encouragement, as last month six Nobel Prize winning authors and intellectuals publicly rallied around Saviano and his criticisms of the Camorra.
“It was made easier by all the support I received, both in Italy and abroad, including the signatures of of the Nobel Prize winners who took my side in the struggle,” said Saviano.
The screen adaptation of the book, directed by Matteo Garrone, delves into the sordid underbelly of Naples and is expressed from five different viewpoints.
In a downward descent into the ruthlessness and bloodiness of the Camorra, the considerable economic control and power of the association is exposed.
As in the book, the film refuses any romanticization of the mafia, instead grimly portraying the true violence of gang life.
Answering questions at the press conference on Wednesday, Saviano appeared weary and subdued. As he described in Italian newspaper La Reppublica:
“Right now I don’t see why I should keep living like this, as a prisoner of myself, my book, my success. I want a life, that’s all.
“What is my crime? Why must I live like a recluse, a leper? I only wanted to tell the story of my people, my land and their humiliation”.