Gomorrah, Roberto Saviano’s 2006 exposé of Naples’s Camorra mafia, was an international bestseller and became an award-winning film. But the death threats that followed forced the author into hiding. Saviano was ostracized by his countrymen and went on the run, changing his location every few months and compelled to keep perpetual company with his bodyguards. To this day, he lives in an undisclosed location.
The loneliness of the fugitive life informs the essays in Beauty and the Inferno. Among other subjects, he writes about the legendary South African jazz singer Miriam Makeba, his meeting with the real-life Donnie Brasco, sharing the Nobel Academy platform with Salman Rushdie, and the murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Present throughout the book is a sense of Saviano’s peculiar isolation, which infuses his words with anger, exceptional insight and tragedy.