Before Dawn

Original title: Prima dell’alba

Author: Malaguti, Paolo

Publication Date:

October 2017



Original language and publisher

Italian | Neri Pozza


Historical Fiction

Before Dawn

Original title: Prima dell’alba

Author: Malaguti, Paolo

  • 2 Seas Represents: Dutch Rights


“Malaguti leads us with a solid, harsh, direct writing in the meanderings of a breathtaking detective story”. — Il Sole 24 Ore

“Not only does Paolo Malaguti use words, he builds them. With his unique voice, he tells us about Men, in the highest meaning of the word”. — Il Gazzettino

“A detective story, a noir, an essay on life into the trenches – an excellent proof of writing skill inspired to a historical fact”.  — Repubblica

A meticulous historical reconstruction of a minor episode in the Great War, and an unsolved mystery for which Malaguti proposes a possible motive

27th of February 1931 – an abrupt awakening for Inspector Malossi, who receives a phone call informing him that a dead man was found on the tracks between Prato and Florence. A banal accident, a suicide, or maybe not? The victim is Andrea Graziani, a fierce General of the First World War. Through the investigation about his death, Paolo Malaguti leads us in a double journey in time, some chapters being set in 1931, year IX of the Fascist era – when Inspector Malossi digs into the case encountering resistance, false leads and pressure from above – and the others in 1917, through the eyes of the “Vecio” (the old man), a soldier who has been at the front since the beginning of the war.

Paolo Malaguti, with a perfect narrative mechanism and a rich and incisive style, literally plunges us into trenches making us smell gas and burnt flesh, hear the screams of the injured, feel the terror of survivors. A realistic still involving novel telling us about war as it was seen and accepted in its insanity by common people and reflecting on a truth that after one hundred years remains obscure, perfectly mixing true facts with an enthralling noir plot.

Paolo Malaguti was born in Monselice (Padua) in 1978. He currently lives in Asolo and teaches literature in Bassano del Grappa. Neri Pozza published his 2015 work La reliquia di Costantinopoli, shortlisted for the Premio Strega 2016. His books include Nuovo sillabario veneto (Neri Pozza BEAT, 2016).