Nicola Lagioia
La città dei vivi (The City of the Living)
A novel, Einaudi, October 2020, 472 pages

Foreign rights Einaudi: Valeria Zito (

Premio Alessandro Leogrande 2021
Premio Lattes Grinzane 2021

A novel that has all the impact of actual fact, a piece of investigative journalism that hovers between In Cold Blood and True Detective, in twenty-first century Rome.

From the murder case that has most profoundly roiled the consciences of Italy in recent years comes a riveting, powerful novel that perfectly recounts our time and the darkest abysses of the human soul. A book you won’t be able to put down until the very last page. A book that’s hard to forget.

“We’re all afraid of becoming victims. We live in the nightmare of being robbed, conned, assaulted, or trodden underfoot. We pray to God and to destiny to keep us safe from killers in the street. But what emotional obstacle do we have to overcome in order to imagine ourselves, one day, in the shoes of a murderer?”

What is the face of Evil, at the beginning of the twenty-first century? In March 2016, in a nondescript apartment on the outskirts of Rome, two young men from good families, named Manuel Foffo and Marco Prato, torture a younger boy, Luca Varani—without any real motive—inflicting upon him a slow and terrible death. The case immediately riveted the attention of the mass media and profoundly troubled public opinion. Soon, it emerged that the killers had been leading secret lives, very different from everything their friends and parents thought they knew about them. And even though the relationship between them and their victim also soon became a topic of discussion, it was the nature of the murder that prompted the most disturbing questions. Was this a terrible case of gratuitous violence? Were the murderers sadists? Lunatics? Did they really understand what they were doing? Some even began to describe the murder as a case of satanic possession.

Nicola Lagioia engages us emotionally with this case from the very outset: he attends Varani’s funeral, meets the boy’s parents, collects documents, interviews the chief figures involved in the murder, and carries on a lengthy correspondence with one of the killers. For him, setting out on the trail of the killing also means descending into the night of Rome, a city that has become unlivable and yet teems with life, besieged by rats and wild animals, overwhelmed by corruption and investigations, riven with narcotics and juvenile prostitution, and yet capable of giving the people who live there a sense of freedom unrivaled by any other place on earth. A city that, at the time of this story, had no mayor, but two popes. Lagioia’s trek brings out the dark side of the times we live in, at once made up of expectations betrayed, difficulties in becoming adults, inequalities, gaps in identity, alienation, and bewilderment. Once again, Nicola Lagioia appears in our bookstores with a fascinating investigation into the deepest roots of Evil, asking the most upsetting question of them all: what secrets can lurk behind the everyday lives of people who are close to us, people we love?

Nicola Lagioia

Nicola Lagioia

Nicola Lagioia was born in Bari. An editor and writer, he is the author of Tre sistemi per sbarazzarsi di Tolstoj (2001, Premio lo Straniero), Occidente per principianti (2004, Premio Scanno), Riportando tutto a casa (2009, Premio Viareggio Rèpaci, Premio Vittorini, Premio Volponi, premio SIAE-Sindacato scrittori), La ferocia (2014, Premio Strega 2015) and La città dei vivi (2020, Premio Alessandro Leogrande, Premio Lattes Grinzane). He had a short story featured in the collection Contro Roma (2018) and he is among the authors of the anthology The Passenger – Roma (2021). He is one of the voices of Pagina3, the daily cultural press review on Rai Radio 3, and writes for several newspaper and magazines. Since 2016 he’s the director of Turin International Book Fair.



Foreign rights sold in
Denmark: People’s Press
Finland: Gummerus
France: Flammarion
Germany: Btb
The Netherlands: De Bezige Bij
Sweden: Bonniers
World English: Europa Editions
World Spanish: Literatura Random House

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