The Chicago Syndicate: Anti-Mafia Judge and Thriller Writer: the Double Life of Gianrico Carofiglio
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Anti-Mafia Judge and Thriller Writer: the Double Life of Gianrico Carofiglio

The La Motta Chair in Italian Studies at Seton Hall University cordially invites you to a book signing and presentation for "Involuntary Witness," an exciting new thriller by Gianrico Carofiglio, Tuesday, April 25, 2006 at 5:30 PM at Casa Italiana (133 Fairview Avenue, South Orange, New Jersey). Admission is free and open to the public. Reservations a must.

With a compelling prosecutorial style, Carofiglio writes crisp, ironical novels that are as much love stories and philosophical treatises as they are legal thrillers. The characters of "local" criminals are depicted with brisk, sparing prose that recalls Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck as well as such contemporary mystery writers as Lawrence Block and Joe R. Lansdale.

The featured presentation, Involuntary Witness, is not only a perfectly paced legal thriller, it is also a powerful attack on racism. When a Senegalese pedlar, Abdou Thiam, is accused of kidnapping and murdering a nine-year-old boy, Francesco Rubino, it looks as though the verdict is a foregone conclusion. The boy disappeared one afternoon while playing soccer on his own in front of his grandparents' villa in the popular seaside resort of Monopoli, to the south of Bari. Two days later his body was found down a well, twelve miles north, in the countryside near Polignano. The local police have gathered the evidence and rounded up some witnesses, including a local barman who says he saw the pedlar at the scene. All fingers seem to point to Abdou Thiam. Defense lawyer Guido Guerrieri is called in to fight this hopeless case and he soon realizes he has a mammoth task on his hands. Faced with small-town racism fueled by recent immigration from Africa, Guido attempts to exploit the esoteric workings of the Italian courts. Gradually he finds a way through the judicial process, and bit by bit he cleverly turns the case in his favor.

A bestseller in Italy, Involuntary Witness has won several important literary awards, including Marisa Rusconi, Rhegium Julii and Fortunato Seminara prizes.

Gianrico Carofiglio, born in 1961, is an anti-Mafia judge in the southern Italian city of Bari. He has been responsible for some of the most important indictments in the region involving organized crime, political corruption and the traffic in human beings. Involuntary Witness is his debut novel and is now the basis for a television series in Italy.

This presentation is the first of a mini-series dedicated to the "Italian Mystery", in collaboration with The Italian Cultural Institute in New York City, The Vice-Consulate of Italy for New Jersey, Seton Hall University (The La Motta Chair Lecture Series), Casa Italiana in South Orange and The Center for Italian and Italian-American Culture

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