Roberto Saviano

by the Students of
L.S.S "Teresa Gullace Talotta", Rome

"I'm not afraid of what could happen to me and I believe that what I've done in writing this book has been worth it." ~ Roberto Saviano
Roberto Saviano (photo by Speranza Casillo)
Roberto Saviano (photo by Speranza Casillo)

Roberto Saviano is a 28-year-old young writer and journalist born in Naples. He grew up in its hinterland ruled by the Camorra. Since he was a child, he has been aware of the mob's existence, its huge economic and political power. As a student at university, he began to write about organized crime.

Roberto Saviano's best-seller's cover (Roberto Saviano's official website)
Roberto Saviano's best-seller's cover (Roberto Saviano's official website)

In 2006 Roberto's life changed forever after publishing his novel, Gomorrah, which strongly denounces the activities of the Camorra, or better, the System, the criminal organization that operates in Naples and in other towns in Campania. The book soon became a best seller (more than 2 million copies sold worldwide, translated in 43 countries), while the writer became the object of threats and menaces from the Casalesi, the most sanguinary of all the Camorra clans. Since 2006, Roberto Saviano has been living under a police escort.

Roberto Saviano with his escort (photo by Mario Spada)
Roberto Saviano with his escort (photo by Mario Spada)

However, the mob clans weren't able to stop him. In an interview published in L'Espresso on the 16th of August 2007, Saviano said:

I'm not afraid. To believe in the power of words and share my ideas with other people, that's the only way to defend myself.

His only fear is about his family's safety: "Of course, with my work also my close relatives are in danger. The only reason why I've cursed my book is for the stress and strain suffered by my family and I won't forgive myself for that.

Saviano's poster made with 1,000 photos (photo by Sebastiano Sacco)
Saviano's poster made with 1,000 photos (photo by Sebastiano Sacco)

He explained why he wrote Gomorrah; he did it for the new generations, seeing kids who dream to be a killer, who see in crime the only way of achievement. Boys and girls without hope. He saw his land without a future, where few men control great wealth oppressing poor people stitched up in this system. He felt the impulse to write, to denounce, simply to give hope to the oppressed.

Saviano's book also inspired a movie directed by Matteo Garrone that received positive reviews from critics, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival 2008 and was chosen as Italy's official candidate for an Oscar. Gomorrah is not only a literary and media phenomenon, it is something more which involves the conscience of the people. Passages from Saviano's book have been read and commented on in schools, during public meetings and demonstrations; his words have become everyone's words.

Last October, a supergrass Carmine Schiavone, a former boss of the Casalesi clan, told the police that the Camorra planned to kill Saviano before Christmas. After spending almost two years under close protection, the writer announced his decision to leave Italy in order to stop having to live as a prisoner and reclaim his life.

But Roberto Saviano is not alone. On 20th October a lot of intellectuals and six Nobel Prize winners wrote and signed an article in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica in which they say that they side with Saviano against Camorra, and they think that Camorra is not a mere police case, but a problem of democracy. They also think that the Italian government must protect his life, and help him in having a normal life. More than 250,000 signatures have been collected so far. Saviano was very grateful to all the people that felt that "my sorrow was also their sorrow."

We consider Roberto Saviano a true hero because he broke the wall of omert - openly denouncing Camorra's illicit traffic and its pervasive power structure. If we want to defeat the "System," we need to follow his example: open our eyes, lift our heads and cry, "We are not afraid!"

Page created on 1/7/2009 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/5/2017 7:27:54 PM

Related Links

Roberto Saviano - Roberto Saviano's official website
Wikipedia - general information about the writer and journalist
The Independent - "Roberto Saviano: Author of 'Gomorrah' the book exposing the Naples mafia" by Peter Popham
Telegraph - Read another news article about Roberto Saviano.

Author Info

Our hero is Roberto Saviano. We were really impressed by his courageous behaviour against Camorra, one of the most powerful criminal organizations in Italy. With his brave and passionate denunciation of the Neapolitan Mafia in his book Gomorrah, he has become a symbol of the fight against any criminal organization and a hero for young generations.