Publication Date:

March 2022



Original language and publisher

Italian | Bompiani

Territories Handled

Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden

Territories Sold

World English (& Other Stories)
France (éditions do)
Spanish (World) (Acantilado)
Romania (Editura Vellant)
Greece (Loggia)
Germany (Launenweber)
Finland (Fabriiki Kustannus)
Audio (Audible Italy)
Netherlands (Uitgeverij van Oorschot)


Literary Fiction



This is a book with a meaning and a force and a message. — Italo Calvino

A marvelous writer. — Roberto Saviano

This year’s strangest and most seductive book. — The Spectator Books of the Year 2017

A lyrical, caustic and highly fantastical imagining of a Naples beset by a biblical deluge… Malacqua is a beguiling portrait of a fractured city, with its jostle of voices and competing desires. — Toby Lichtig, Wall Street Journal

Pugliese’s prose, a pasticcio of Joycean stream-of-consciousness and Márquez-like supra-realism, stays vivid in the mind. His fiaba vesuviana (Vesuvian fairytale), superbly translated by Shaun Whiteside, is a beautiful and haunting exploration of life at a meteorological extreme. — Ian Thomson, Financial Times

A picture…of a city suspended in melancholy… The atmosphere of a flood is created by a free-flowing stream of consciousness, alternately intensifying and subsiding, and Shaun Whiteside’s sensitive translation never lets the original down.” — Anna Aslanyan, Times Literary Supplement

This rediscovered classic has a back-story almost as uncanny as its mood . . . The skies clear, but the mystery lingers in this clammily unsettling tale. — The Economist 1843

Malacqua is a brooding novel, with flashes of brilliance . . . Pugliese’s narrative is epic in intent . . . [combining] reportage with nightmarish indications of the insidiousness of the new waterscape, absurdism and phantasmagoria. — The New Statesman

Pugliese’s first and only novel is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a city on the brink of disaster. The sweeping conclusion is a beautiful and haunting foray into the search for meaning in a meaningless world. — Publishers Weekly

The narrative slips with a watery fluidity between various of the city’s residents . . . the point of view cascading between the individual and collective with an ease reminiscent of the stream of consciousness technique demonstrated by writers in the early years of the 20th century . . . The citizens of Naples watch the destruction of their city waiting for an “extraordinary event” to bring things to a head; this, they suspect is “merely the start of the transformation”. Whether or not their fears come true, readers can discover for themselves. What’s not in doubt, however, is the extraordinariness of this haunting, eerie novel. — The National

Pugliese’s novel [offers] plenty of opportunities for surreal imagery and forays into the uncanny. — Tobias Carroll, Lithub

New edition forthcoming from Bompiani in March 2022.

After a four-day deluge, Naples is flooded. Buildings collapse, sinkholes appear. Strange events spread across the city: ghostly voices emanate from a medieval castle and five-lire coins begin to play music, but only to ten-year-old children. A melancholy journalist searches for meaning as the narrative takes us into the minds of those who have suffered in the floods.

Despite phenomenal initial success, the novel was withdraw from publication at the author’s request, and not reissued until after his death in 2012. Malacqua remains a timely critique and a richly peopled portrait of a much-mythologized city.

Marketing Information

  • Winner of the English Pen Award
  • Film and TV rights sold to Dazzle Communication
  • English translation available