Better Days

Original title: Il miglior tempo

Author: Rollo, Alberto

Publication Date:

September 2021



Original language and publisher

Italian | Einaudi

Territories Handled

English (North America), Netherlands


Literary Fiction

Better Days

Original title: Il miglior tempo

Author: Rollo, Alberto


Rollo’s writing is a sophisticated play that makes the reader fly over the banality of communication. — Corriere della Sera

A novel full of cultural references and suggestions where each page echoes literature and art. A book that speaks of “life that presses with clumsy grace.” and the attempt to govern it and choose the right path. — Simonetta Fiori, la Repubblica

Il Miglior Tempo is one of the most interesting novels in our recent history, full of compelling characters and high-literary quotes. […] It’s a novel that will linger long and intensively as long as there are still readers, critics, and historians attentive and worthy, involved. — Goffredo Fofi, Internazionale

With Il Miglior Tempo Alberto Rollo has found the space and silence necessary to let his deep voice emerge inside a suggestive story that strongly resonates with the present and conflict of generations we are living today. — Lisa Ginzburg, Avvenire

Rollo captures the pace of time with a sharp novel that penetrates the consciousness of a generation, the one of our fathers, that had lost the opportunity to exist outside their own revolution, reduced to a private garden. — Giacomo Giossi, Il Foglio

“I just like people to say that my existence wasn’t vain,” says twenty-year-old Filippo Castelli, nicknamed Cantor in honor of the mathematician Georg, the founder of set theory, with whom he shares restlessness, an anxiety towards infinity and a spasmodic desire for belonging. Perhaps due to the premature death of his father, which very quickly deprives Filippo of a role model, he ends up continuously looking for a teacher, who can “guide him and show him the good way.”

Among the first potential role models there is the elderly pediatrician Romagnoli, now retired and recently widowed, who becomes fond of Filippo like a son. However, Filippo, so impulsive and restless, is not easily satisfied and from a nursing student he reinvents himself as a bricklayer, a craftsman, a champion of migrants and laborers exploited by the gangmaster system, moving like a mad splinter from one part of Italy to another, from a new mentor to the other, without peace. He is always on the run, a continuous escape from his petty-bourgeois mother and conformist older brother Giulio, from his putative father Romagnoli and even from his girlfriend Anna, who tries to “save him” despite the repeated warnings from others, especially when she finds herself pregnant with Filippo’s son, who had abandoned her to her fate.

The new novel by Alberto Rollo, finalist at Premio Strega 2017 and purebred writer as well as editor of some of the most important Italian authors of the last thirty years (Tabucchi, Baricco, and Benni, to name three), compares two generations worlds apart: one that seems to escape like sand between fingers, the other buried in the memories of the past, deprived of the energies and emotional tools to entrust the world to those who could, or should, give it new life.

With the rapid pace of a Schumann sonata and the indomitable inspiration of the great 19th-20th-century literature, Il miglior tempo is a resonant and powerful reflection on the difficult (and perhaps impossible) passing of the baton between two distant yet intimate worlds, and at the same time a lucid gaze, political and human at once, to an increasingly complex and elusive contemporaneity.