As in Heaven

Original title: Come in cielo

Publication Date:

September 2023



Original language and publisher

Italian | NN Editore

Territories Handled

English (North America), Netherlands


Debut Novel

As in Heaven

Original title: Come in cielo


An impeccable story of harshness and tradition, violence and innocence, case and destiny, in which blood calls blood, even without guilt.” – L’Espresso

A pen that mixes sound and matter, a novel with an impeccable narrative structure of roughness and folklore, violence and innocence, chance and fate. On the slopes of Mount Etna, around an elegant Villa made for receptions and built with sacrifice by Zu Pippo, the unexpected happens: a murder. And the incident breaks the balance, triggers revenge. Blood calls for blood, even without guilt. Just as in the Old Testament.” – Sabina Minardi

Guided by an omniscient narrator, the pace of the plot in the sixty-one short chapters is engaging. Scaramella’s world is painted in a continuous chiaroscuro and an expressionistic vein. (…) The novel falls within the Southern Italian Gothic, in the shadow of William Faulkner.” – il Corriere della sera

A memorable, startlingly original and brilliantly written debut, that portraits an arid and cruel world where innocence becomes sin.

“Everything is in its place, everything is perfect. This is how things appear a moment before their destruction.”

In Badìa, a Sicilian small town placed at the foot of Etna, everyone knows Zu Pippo Puglisi and his sumptuous villa. He built it to host all kinds of ceremonies after years of hard work, tricks and cunning, and many compromises with the small mafia bosses of the area. Zu Pippo lives in the villa with his whole family including Salvatore, the eldest and yet also the youngest of all his grandchildren. Salvatore has the body of a man and the mind of a child. Many people call him “retarded”, but he can’t hear them as he is lost in his dreamlike world, where he follows his grandfather everywhere and always smiles. Zu Pippo loves him with all his heart.

In the evening, Salvatore used to hide among the hedges of the garden to admire people from afar. Then, on the occasion of a birthday party, he sees Beverly, a beautiful young woman, who often works at the villa as a DJ. Beverly is the only girl Salvatore has ever felt something for. She invites him to dance, but in Salvatore’s mind that dance becomes a dream from which it is impossible to wake up, and which ends up having irreparable consequences. When Zu Pippo discovers what happened, what Salvatore has accidentally done to Beverly, he tries to hide it, but the news spreads like wildfire, and Tano, Beverly’s former boyfriend, a young gangster of Badìa, begins an ingenious and violent siege to hunt down Salvatore, who has suddenly become the monster, the culprit.

With a prose that is sometimes solemn as a myth and sometimes clear as a screenplay, Damiano Scaramella combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, offering the portrait of an eerie isolated community, lost in a merciless and disenchanted world. Come in cielo is an exceptional debut novel of fate and chance, family and isolation, innocence and violence, that is utterly relentless from beginning to end.