x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Engaging, not entertaining

First published in 2008, Giorgio Vasta’s debut novel, Time on My Hands, has finally been translated into English. Set in Sicily in the late 1970s, Time on My Hands is a cautionary tale reminiscent of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, in which the political awareness of three 11-year-old boys is stirred by a shocking real-life event – the kidnapping and subsequent murder of prime minister Aldo Moro in Rome by the communist terror group the Red Brigades in 1978. Eager apprentices of militant ideology, heads shaved and ready to act without remorse or compassion, the trio decide to kidnap a classmate and hold him in a “people’s prison” before bringing about his terrible end.

A fierce anger is the lifeforce of this book. As the narrator, Nimbus says: “For I was an ideological, focused intense little boy, a non-ironic, anti-ironic, refractory little boy, a non-little boy …” And that’s before his gang begin their quest for a radical perfection, as another boy, the ringleader Comrade Flight, puts it. Vasta’s novel is not an entertaining read but it cannot fail to engage.

cdight@thenational.ae