Ciò che inferno non è (What Isn't Hell)
Winner of the Mondello Special Jury Prize 2015
“Take away love and you will have hell” you told me, Father Pino. “Give love and you will have what hell is not.”
Palermo, May 1992. A group of high school students celebrating at a pool, when they see on TV images of the assassination of Judge Giovanni Falcone, his car bombed by the mafia. Months later, teenage Federico is about to leave Palermo for an English summer school in Oxford, when he agrees to help out his teacher, Father Pino Puglisi, who runs a youth centre in a deprived area of Palermo, dominated by mafia and misery. Father Puglisi believes that change can only come from the children, if they are given the possibility of imagining a future that is different from the violent lives of their fathers.
Federico doesn’t know this will be the beginning of a new life for him, a real life, forcing him to re-evaluate everything he thought he knew before. Leaving behind his safe and privileged life, Federico wants to learn from the darkness of Palermo’s alleyways, from the often incredibly tough lives of the children who attend the youth centre, and also from Lucia, a beautiful girl full of courage and light.
On the day of his fifty-sixth birthday, Father Puglisi is murdered by the mafia. From that day, the hope for Palermo and its beauty are entrusted to Federico’s young hands…
Alessandro D’Avenia, himself a student of Father Puglisi at this high school, draws a powerful, unforgettable portrait of a wonderful and contradictory city, of a society suffocated by silence yet capable of incomparable acts of courage.