Nobel Prize Winners Urge Italy to Stop Mafia Threats on Author's Life

Posted on October 27, 2008

Bestselling author Ian McEwan is speaking out against the Neopolitan mafia's public death threats against author Roberto Saviano. Saviano wrote an expose of the Naples mafia (the Comorroa) titled Gomorrah which was a bestseller. The Comorra has said that Saviano will be dead by Christmas. Infuriated that the Italian government isn't taking the threat seriously, a number of Noble laureates started a petition demanding that the Italian government put a stop the threats from the mafia.

The petition, on the website of Italian paper La Repubblica, was prompted by an open letter to the paper from Nobel laureates Gunter Grass, Orhan Pamuk, Mikhail Gorbachev, Dario Fo, Desmond Tutu and Rita Levi Montalcini after Italian media reports that the Camorra planned to assassinate Saviano by Christmas.

The Nobel winners called on the Italian state to make "every effort to protect Saviano and to defeat the Camorra", saying that "this is not a mere police case. It's a problem of democracy. Saviano's safe freedom concerns every one of us as citizens." Saviano's Gomorrah, an expose of the Neopolitan mafia, the Camorra, is a runaway bestseller in Italy and has also been made into a film, which is Italy's official candidate for an Oscar. "Gomorrah is a rather extraordinary book," said McEwan. "He's obviously a guy who knows his stuff, and is very courageous. A lot of these deaths are ordered from inside prison - clearly it's another form of thuggery."

Saviano has spent almost two years under close police protection and has been the subject of repeated death threats, but following the reports that the Camorra planned to assassinate him by Christmas, he said he would leave the country.

Other signatories to the petition include Martin Amis, Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Lethem, Chuck Palahniuk, Paul Auster, Nathan Englander,

This is an extraordinary situation. Saviano is still in hiding and the Italian government is doing nothing about the threat to his life. Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System will be out in paperback in the U.S. on November 25th.

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