A car ride, during the hottest August ever. Thirteen-year-old Matteo, who lost his father at a young age and adores music, is riding alongside his mother as they make the short journey from a rural village to the nearby city, where he will be questioned by a judge about the abuse he allegedly suffered at the hands of the parish priest, a few years earlier. This is a formative journey on which Matteo must confront evil in all its guises. It is an emotional crescendo right up to the final encounter, a hand-to-hand battle with pure evil in what he calls the ‘Chamber of Words’, during which he will undergo perhaps the most violent abuse of all, perpetrated by those who should be protecting him – the lawyer and the judge – who reconstruct the events without listening to him, and without any sensitivity given his vulnerable age.
Written in a subtle language, as we witness the vivid inner world of Matteo, The Innocent is a story of fragility, which asks questions rather than positing answers. The novel touches upon one of the most difficult subjects of contemporary life, told for the first time from the child’s point of view. It’s a journey that accompanies the reader beyond the smokescreen of words, with the same wonder that infants discover the real face of the adult world, despite appearances.
Praise for Marco Franzoso
‘Marco Franzoso has always been working on a personal classification of the present. [… He is] always careful not to condemn, and busy, as every writer should be, observing without absolving himself, right from the heart of the catastrophe.’
– Elena Stancanelli
‘There is nothing unnecessary or decorative in Franzoso’s books (…). He talks about feelings without ever slipping into sentimentalism’
– Il Messaggero
L’innocente is the winner of the Mondello Prize 2019