Gomorrah (book)

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Gomorrah by robertosaviano.jpg
AuthorRoberto Saviano
Original titleGomorra
LanguageItalian / Neapolitan
Publication date
364.1/060945 22
LC ClassHV6453.I83 C42 2007

Gomorrah (Italian: Gomorra) is a non-fiction investigative book by Roberto Saviano published in 2006, which documents Saviano's infiltration and investigation of various areas of business and daily life controlled or affected by criminal organization Camorra.

The book[edit]

The book describes the clandestine particulars of the business of the Camorra, a powerful Neapolitan mafia-like organization. In this book Saviano employs prose and news-reporting style to narrate the story of the Camorra, exposing its territory and business connections.

In an article in 2020, Saviano said "We forget what Gomorrah really is: Gomorrah is not a mere synonym with Camorra, Gomorrah is an economic system wherein everything is missing, where there are no investments, no opportunities, no education, no jobs, no resources, no businesses."[1]

Since 2006, following the publication of the book, Saviano has been threatened by several Neapolitan “godfathers”. The Italian Minister of the Interior has granted him a permanent police escort, but he's been often attacked by politicians of Berlusconi's cabinet. Also, his escort has been questioned.

As of December 2008, the book has sold almost 4 million copies worldwide.[2]

The title of the book comes from a text by Giuseppe Diana, a parish priest in Casal di Principe who was killed by the Camorra in March 1994: "time has come to stop being a Gomorrah."[3]


Gomorrah won numerous literary prizes.[4] In January 2009 the number of copies sold in Italy surpassed 2,000,000.

Gomorrah has been translated in 51 countries. It appeared in the best sellers’ lists of Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Sweden and Finland. The New York Times has placed it amongst the most important books of 2007, while The Economist has included it among the hundred books of the year. Saviano is the only Italian to be placed in both lists.

Gomorrah was described by some critics and other Italian authors (such as Wu Ming, Carlo Lucarelli and Valerio Evangelisti)[5][6] as part of a turbulent, heterogeneous stream in Italian writing called the New Italian Epic, whose representatives are particularly keen on producing not only novels and non-fiction narratives, but also real UNOs, Unidentified Narrative Objects.[7] Gomorrah itself was described as a UNO by several critics, readers and writers.[8]

Theatrical, cinematic and television adaptations[edit]

Gomorrah has been made into a play written by Saviano with Mario Gelardi and a 2008 film directed by Matteo Garrone and produced by Fandango. On September 24, 2008, the film was picked by ANICA (Italy's Association of the Cinematic and Audiovisual Industry) to represent Italy in the race for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination.[9]

In reviewing Garrone's film adaptation of the book, Christoph Huber wrote: "With its interest in moving beyond the categories of novel or non-fiction, Saviano's work has been identified as part of a heterogeneous strain of national literature, subsumed as the New Italian Epic. A term that certainly isn't disgraced by Gomorrah, the film."[10]

In 2014, the book was also loosely adapted as an eponymous television series.[11]


  1. ^ Roberto Saviano (8 March 2020). "Naples is demolishing Le Vele, symbol of its Camorra past. But I'm not celebrating". The Observer. Translated by Vulliamy, Ed.
  2. ^ "Streets of 'Gomorrah'". Newsweek. December 22, 2008.
  3. ^ "The Camorra closely observed], by Federico Varese". Global Crime. 10 (3): 262–266. August 2009. doi:10.1080/17440570903079972.
  4. ^ Viareggio-Repaci Prize for best debut novel, Premio Giancarlo Siani, Premio Dedalus, Premio "Lo Straniero", Premio Letterario Edoardo Kihlgren for best debut novel, Premio Tropea, the Vittorini Prize for civic engagement and the Guido Dorso literary prize
  5. ^ A Reflection on Gomorrah in the context of the New Italian Epic , opening talk at the conference "The Italian Perspective on metahistorical fiction: The New Italian Epic", IGRS, University of London, October 2nd, 2008
  6. ^ a single webpage regrouping two articles by major Italian authors published on two important daily newspapers: Carlo Lucarelli, "Noi scrittori della nuova epica", La Repubblica, May 3rd, 2008 and Valerio Evangelisti, "Literary Opera", L'Unità, May 6th, 2008 Archived 2009-03-16 at the Wayback Machine. Lucarelli wrote: "I agree with enthusiasm and great interest to Wu Ming's reflections on the New Italian Epic, and I practically identify myself with many of their observations. By "practically" I mean in terms of a literary praxis, a research done by means of books and novels [...] by means of history, which for us Italians has never become past and is always present and contemporary [...], also by means of telling the hidden everyday life of the camorra, as Saviano did...'" According to Evangelisti, "Gomorrah, which is far from being a mere journalistic report, makes a statement which Jean-Patrick Manchette would have appreciated: crime is not a secondary element of capitalism, a perversion of its principles. On the contrary, crime is at the core of capitalism, it's one of the main pillars of the system [...] This unidentified object – is it a report or a novel? – has a choral nature that links it to epic, in this case an epic that has no heroes but is capable to embrace a whole world."
  7. ^ Italian novelist Wu Ming explains the concept of New Italian Epic in a conference at Middlebury College, VT, March 31st, 2008 - audio, English, 50:00
  8. ^ "Appunti sul come e il cosa di Gomorra, on wumingfoundation.com, June 2006 (Italian)
  9. ^ Eric J. Lyman, "Gomorrah in Oscar's foreign-language gang: Italian organized crime drama joins list of contenders", Hollywood Reporter, September 24th, 2008.
  10. ^ Christop Huber, "Gomorrah", Cinemascope #35 Archived May 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Rees, Jasper (2014-08-04). "Gomorra, Sky Atlantic, review: 'ugly, in a good way'". Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-03-09.