Burning Skies

Original title: Cieli in fiamme

Author: Insolia, Mattia

Publication Date:

February 2023



Original language and publisher

Italian | Mondadori

Territories Handled

English (North America), Netherlands

Territories Sold

Germany (Karl Rauch)


Literary Fiction

Burning Skies

Original title: Cieli in fiamme

Author: Insolia, Mattia


Mattia Insolia has written an extraordinarily powerful novel. Alive. Angry. A punch in
the stomach that takes your breath away. He is not afraid of the dark: he illuminates it,
setting it on fire. – Silvia Avallone

Previous novel Gli affamati longlisted for the Premio Strega 2021: An author
who is here to stay. – Fabio Geda


Unconventional and daring, Cieli in fiamme stands out for its literary and narrative potency, offering an unapologetic look at the clash between the old generations and the new with the youngsters of today even more lonely than their fathers and grandfathers.

Summer 2000. Teresa is a naive, unpretentious sixteen-year-old girl, very shy and scared of everything, who is growing up in a dysfunctional family. She wants to escape her mother’s rigid guard and take over an identity chosen by the others. Like every year, she goes with her parents on holiday to Camporotondo, a resort small-town in Southern Italy, made of burned fields and anonymous supermarkets, where everything, the life itself, seems suspended. That very summer Teresa will meet the handsome Riccardo, her first love, and her brutal passage into adult life.

Winter 2019. Eighteen-year-old Niccolò is a self-confident and restless young man addicted to alcohol and cocaine. On a Sunday like many others, his father, with whom Niccolò has an almost non-existent relationship, decides to take him along on the road for a week, by car, without revealing his destination. Between shabby motels, kilometres of highway and cigarettes, in the suspended time of the road, father and son mirror each other and see each other perhaps for the first time. However, while Niccolò seems to have learned to stay afloat in his own emptiness, drowning his anger in the disenchanted brutality of youth, his father is falling apart and seeks in his son a forgiveness that no one can give him.

Teresa and Niccolò, two youngsters caught in their desperate search for identity, intertwine their voices in this highly original and fiercely contemporary generational novel. After his debut Gli affamati, which has set Mattia Insolia as one of the most promising talented voices in contemporary Italian fiction, Cieli in fiamme explores the confusions, the contradictions, the rage and vitality of two generations, parents and children. At the same time, it reveals the roots of today’s existential emptiness and lack of references for young people by going back to their grandfathers who, while professing their adamant faiths and rules, breed the victims and the monsters of the future. A highly ambitious novel, told with a cinematic pace and written in an utterly original, rude and resonant voice, that will speak and make speak of and for itself.