Toward the Abyss Whistling

Original title: Verso l’abisso fischiettando

Author: Presta, Marco

Publication Date:

April 2024



Original language and publisher

Italian | Einaudi

Territories Handled

English (North America), Netherlands


Literary Fiction

Toward the Abyss Whistling

Original title: Verso l’abisso fischiettando

Author: Presta, Marco


Enrico is a retired elementary school teacher, an ordinary man who has had an ordinary existence. He is old as hell, but still quite spry: his analyses would make a 50-year-old envious. In short, there would be all the ingredients for an endless, peaceful, unshaken old age. Why then does he sit barricaded in his apartment and cannot even go out for a walk?

Henry is, most likely, the most detested man on the planet. Every day pickets and protests are organized in front of his house, with thousands of people shouting their resentment of him. He continues to breathe while others continue to die, and this is an unforgivable outrage.

His diversity is, as usually with diversity in general, not tolerated. And so the new Methuselah spends his days assisted by the caregiver Eunice, the geriatrician-paleontologist Maria, and Inspector Gizzi, who looks after his security. But at this stage, even the institutions can barely bear the presence of Henry, who has become a public order headache in spite of himself. In the climate of hate, Enrico also discovers a sudden tenderness: that of a son he didn’t know he had, a policeman inserted into his witness protection program.

Marco Presta has written an unconventional bitter family novel with deep social reflections. Indeed, within the framework of an ultra centenarian life, and behind the apparent lightness and enjoyability of the writing, arises a crucial question: what value does the life of an elderly person have in contemporary society? Now that the perspective of human life is longer and that of the planet shorter, what does this mean for Western societies?

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