A dark, gripping coming-of-age tale that explores violence, friendship, family, and what it means to be a man
Palermo, the early 1980s. Mafia gang wars are tearing a precariously stitched-together city apart. A fatherless nine-year-old boy climbs into a boxing ring to face his first opponent.
So begins On Earth as It Is in Heaven, a sweeping multigenerational saga that reaches back to the collapse of the Italian front in Africa and forward to young Davidù’s quest to become Italy’s national boxing champion, a feat that has eluded the other men of his family.
But Davide Enia, whose daring, lyrical novel caused a sensation when it was published in Italy in 2012, has crafted an epic that soars in miniature as well. The brutal struggles for dominance among Davidù’s circle of all-male friends; his strict but sympathetic grandmother, whose literacy is a badge of honor; his charismatic and manipulative great uncle, who will become his trainer—the vicious scenes and sometimes unsympathetic characters Enia has crafted land hard and true.
This is a novel that is both firmly grounded in what Leonardo Sciascia described as Sicilitude—the language and mentality of that eternally perplexing island—and devastatingly universal. A meditation on physical violence, love and friendship, boxing, betrayal, sex, ambition, and, above all, masculinity in all its various guises, Enia’s work comes vividly to life in the sharp, seductive translation of Antony Shugaar.