Clash of Civilisations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, Paperback

Clash of Civilisations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio Paperback

4 out of 5 (9 ratings)

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Showing 1 - 5 of 9 reviews.

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Review by
4.5

Absolutely a masterpiece. I couldn't put it down. And not just a good read, but the issues it brings to mind concerning immigration and the relationship of various cultures was sprinkled with humor. This should be required reading for anybody studying world cultures or sociology. At first the characters can be a little confusing, but it is an enjoyable book. The way these people see each other - how they do not bother to learn the truth about each other - yet they all love the one character because of his honesty. However, he has helped them without ever revealing much about himself - a hidden past that none of them even want to hear about. He helps these immigrants to Rome (whether they are from outside the country or just another part of Italy) to live amongst each other, and they wholeheartedly believe he is a native.....but they don't know everything.

Review by
4

This was a very interesting, sad, and funny book. I saw it in the store and was intrigued by the cover.It is set in modern day Rome, and deals with a group of residents in one apartment building in Piazza Vittorio. A resident has been killed and another has disappeared. There is only one 'Roman' among the residents, and the rest are foreigners both immigrants and illegals. There are several other Italians from different cities/regions, but they too are considered outsiders by the Romans, and they also consider themselves as 'others'.The book is short and the structure has each of 10 residents telling their story about the killing and the disappearance. While talking about the incidents, they of course tell their own story, and express their attitudes, experiences, hopes, goals and disappointments. They talk about discrimination, and being hurt, yet they in turn disparage others in certain groups that they think are the root of problems.Each resident chapter is followed by a chapter from the resident who has disappeared. He talks about his experience with the resident, and about himself. The police have determined that the man who disappeared is not really Italian, but an immigrant. Because he argued with the dead resident, is an immigrant, and missing the police also consider him the killer - though there is no evidence.The other residents are all shocked that the disappeared man is not Italian or Roman. Because they all thought he was, and because he was so kind and helpful, he alone crosses the barriers of ethnicity.The final chapter is of the policeman who is working on the case. It provides a wrap up, and 2 endings.I liked the writing, the story was in turns funny and sad, because of the prejudice that was rampant. The characters were interesting, as was the structure of the story.

Review by
4

This novel by Algerian-born Lakhous definitely falls into the category of a Good Find. The quirky title and interesting cover caught my eye in the library. Sitting down to try it, I ended up reading it cover to cover in one shot. It's not long, but it's definitely entertaining.The book is one part mystery and two parts commentary on the immigrant experience. Lorenzo Manfredini has been found murdered in the elevator of an apartment building in Rome where he lived. Amedeo, another resident, disappeared at about the same time. Further, the police have just discovered that Amedeo, though speaking flawless Italian and knowing Rome better than most residents, is actually an immigrant.From this starting point, Lakhous has ten other residents and the police inspector each speak for a chapter, providing their perceptions of Amedeo. They all, except the last, admire or love him and are firm in their convictions that he simply cannot be the culprit. However, the revelation of his foreign status leads each to wander off into their own thoughts on immigrants: ranging from those who are also immigrants struggling with Italy, through Italians who resent the presence of foreigners, to those who view even those from a different region of Italy as less civilized. Interspersed with each of these voices is Amedeo, commenting on the person who just spoke, explaining them more fully, pointing out their prejudices, valuing them.The book is laugh-out-loud funny at some points, but there is always an undercurrent of seriousness, of somber comment on what it means to be an immigrant. There is also observation on the blindness of prejudice and stereotyping.A quick read that will certainly repay the time—a strong recommendation.

Review by
3.5

Funny and entertaining, if slight and at times overdone. The book is told from multiple viewpoints – each person has a section where they describe their relationship to the helpful but enigmatic Amedeo, who has been accused of murder. Amedeo’s entries relating to the person who has just narrated follow. A disliked resident has been killed in the elevator of an apartment building at the Piazza Vittorio and a number of residents, neighbors and employees are interviewed. Many of those interviewed are immigrants – some from different countries, others from different parts of Italy. The confusion over the origin of several of the narrators is a funny running joke and it was interesting to see the variety of attitudes towards all kinds of immigrants. For example, the Milanese professor is scornful of Rome as well as anyone from the south of Italy while others have more generalized xenophobia towards non-Italians. However, many of the characterizations are over-the-top (one resident accuses the Chinese of stealing her dog and suggests the UN should declare war on China) and the revelations of Amedeo’s background are somewhat anticlimactic. Still, an interesting and fast read.

Review by
5

Loved it - loved the format of each suspect in the Gladiator's murder getting a voice. I loved the diversity of the characters with the only unifying factor, their love of Amedeo, a powerful yet shadow-like figure. The action, such as it is, unfolds slowly - great showing of how people become "others". Lakhouse gently illuminates how these perceptions arise and just how superficial they are but also how powerful. Great characters, sly humor and social relevance.

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