I would be lying if I didn’t think this novel was almost a little too timely, given the events across Europe, and Italy specifically, but Mattia Conti’s dystopian novel Gli Amanti Sommersi (The Sunken Lovers) may also be very much the kind of book that readers need – in Italy, in the UK, in the book reading world – right now. The text, or at least, its present-day story set in the 2030s, opens with Glauco, a young researcher, who will become the pillar upon which a new Racial Theory is built, and his meeting with the Representative, a shadowy, snake-like, monstrous yet-familiar power behind many thrones
‘What do you see, Glauco?’
Your hands, their shadow, the reflection.
‘You see light and the absence of light. You call it shadow, but it does not exist. It is an absence, Glauco. I asked you to prove an absence.’
In India, he explained, the Hindu nationalists were working on a new generation of children. A pure race, created through Ayurveda, the promise of taller, stronger, lighter men who would take the reins of the country, creating a dictatorship based on one specific criteria: genetic superiority. The Indian experiment had created what people of all ages, places, and time had craved: faith.
They would be doing the same. Together, they would create a new faith, capable of restoring good old Italy to its imperial splendour. Roman forums of glass and steel, a technological humanism, and at last, a heroic rediscovery of Italianness.
Read the full piece at European Literature Network!