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The Thief of Days (Il Ladro di Giorni)

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Original Language: Italian | 289 pp. | April 2019

2 Seas represents: English (US & Canada), French, Dutch, Portuguese and Nordic rights.

FICTION

A movie based on the book, produced by Indigo Film and starring Riccardo Scamarcio, is soon to be released.

A boy and his father, who has just come out of prison, set off on a long drive to southern Italy. During the course of the adventurous journey, from Trentino to Puglia via Cilento, they finally have the chance to get to know each other.

Eleven-year-old Salvo, from Bari, hates many things. When you hurt yourself, and grown-ups say, ‘Don’t worry, it’s nothing serious,’ but insist on you having an anti-tetanus jab. When you write a good essay at school, but before you can get any satisfaction from your achievement the teacher reads it out in front of the class, embarrassing you. And especially when people speak to you as if you were a toddler, syllable by syllable, as if you didn’t know every one of their words, even the dirty ones.

Just like his father, Vincenzo, does.

Salvo hasn’t seen him for six years – since two men took him away, to a special school, where he was never allowed to come home after lessons.

Now Vincenzo has been let out of prison and joined Salvo at the home of his uncle and aunt in Trento, and wants his son to travel with him to Bari, where he has a mission to carry out.

The journey will take four days – a long time for Salvo, who doesn’t want to go with this man covered with fresh tattoos, who treats him off-handedly and does things secretively, as if he had something to hide. But it’s also an opportunity for father and son to get to know each other again, and to talk.

A journey to southern Italy, punctuated by meetings in motorway restaurants, lessons in life and memories of a childhood which is still innocent and full of questions, until the mysterious ‘thief of days’ appears. A fascinating novel in which the roles of father and son are often inverted, in a constant process of reciprocal discovery.

Guido Lombardi (born in Naples in 1975) is a film director, screenwriter and author. He directed Là-bas (Leone del Futuro at the 68th International Exhibition of Cinematic Art in Venice) and Take Five, a candidate at this year’s Festival of Rome. He has published Non mi avrete mai (Einaudi, 2013, with Gaetano Di Vaio) and Teste matte (Chiarelettere, 2015, with Salvatore Striano). This novel has been turned into a film of the same title directed by Lombardi himself, which is soon to be released by Indigo Film and Bronx Film.