31 March 2022

Maurizio De Giovanni – crime writer

Detective novelist has opened up his native Naples to crime fiction fans

Maurizio De Giovanni worked in a  bank before becoming a full-time writer
Maurizio De Giovanni worked in a 
bank before becoming a full-time writer
Bestselling author Maurizio De Giovanni was born on this day in 1958 in Naples in southern Italy.

His novels have been translated into English, Spanish, Catalan, French and German and have sold well over a million copies throughout Europe.

De Giovanni is best known for his two fictional detectives, Commissario Ricciardi, who works as a detective in 1930s Naples, and Ispettore Lojacono, who has been transferred to present day Naples from his home town of Agrigento in Sicily, after being accused of associating with the Mafia.

He has also written stories featuring a very different character, a social worker called Mina Settembre, who is based at a clinic in Naples specialising in providing psychological support.

In 2005, De Giovanni won a writing competition for unpublished authors with a short story, I vivi e i morti - The Living and the Dead -  which was set in the 1930s and featured the character Commissario Ricciardi. 

He was working in a bank at the time, a job for which by his own admission he had no particular inclination but which paid the bills. Always known as a bookworm, he wrote stories that he would show his colleagues. In fact, it was his co-workers who entered him for the competition, without his knowledge.

His success inspired his first novel, Le lacrime del pagliaccio - The Tears of the Clown - which was later republished in English as I Will Have Vengeance – The Winter of Commissario Ricciardi.

De Giovanni was inspired by his parents' memories of Naples
De Giovanni was inspired by
his parents' memories of Naples
He wrote his early stories in the Naples of the 1930s in part because his parents, who were also born in Naples, would share their memories with him of the city before World War Two.

I Will Have Vengeance was followed in 2008 by Blood Curse- The Springtime of Commissario Ricciardi and subsequently by Everyone in Their Place – The Summer of Commissario Ricciardi in 2009 and the Day of the Dead – The Autumn of Commissario Ricciardi in 2010. 

To date De Giovanni has written 13 Commissario Ricciardi novels, 10 of which have been published in English.

In 2012, he ventured into the noir genre with The Crocodile, which was the first appearance by his other detective, Ispettore Lojacono.

He was then inspired by the 87th Precinct series by the American author Ed McBain to write a police procedural, The Bastards of Pizzofalcone. His five Pizzofalcone novels have now been made into a television series by RAI, starring Alessandro Gassmann - son of the celebrated actor, Vittorio Gassman - as Ispettore Lojacono. In 2021 it aired for a third season.

His Commissario Ricciardi and Mina Settembre stories have also been adapted for television.

De Giovanni, who has lived and worked for most of his life in Naples, has also written features and short stories about sport - and for the theatre.

He adapted the American novelist Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and David Manet’s play American Buffalo for Italian theatre audiences and has written three original stage plays - Ingresso indipendente, Mettici la mano and Il silenzio grande.

Il silenzio grande - The Great Silence - is a two-act comedy that was first staged at the Teatro Diana in Naples and turned into a film - directed by Alessandro Gassman - that was shown at the 2021 edition of the Venice Film Festival.

The Teatro di San Carlo is thought to be the oldest opera house the the world still in use
The Teatro di San Carlo is thought to be the
oldest opera house the the world still in use
Travel tip:

Much of De Giovanni’s debut novel, I Will Have Vengeance, takes place in the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, the city’s historic opera house. Teatro di San Carlo was officially opened in 1737, way ahead of La Scala in Milan and La Fenice in Venice. Built in Via San Carlo close to Piazza del Plebiscito, the main square in Naples, Teatro di San Carlo quickly became one of the most important opera houses in Europe and renowned for its excellent productions. The theatre was designed by Giovanni Antonio Medrano for the Bourbon King of Naples, Charles I, and took just eight months to build. This was 41 years before La Scala and 55 years before La Fenice opened. San Carlo is now believed to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, remaining opera houses in the world. Both Gioachino Rossini and Gaetano Donizetti served as artistic directors at San Carlo and the world premieres of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and Rossini’s Mosè were performed there.

The Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples, as seen from the Pizzofalcone hill
The Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples, as seen
from the Pizzofalcone hill
Travel tip:

Pizzofalcone, where De Giovanni’s police procedural series is set, is an area of the San Ferdinando district, situated between Piazza del Plebiscito and the Royal Palace and Castel dell’Ovo and the Santa Lucia area. It is essentially a hill, also known as Monte di Dio. It is so called because in the 13th century Charles I of Anjou, who was King of Naples at the time, had a falconry built there. Its elevated position offers panoramic views of the Naples coastline stretching towards Mergellina along the Riviera di Chiaia. De Giovanni has spoken about Pizzofalcone, which has both upmarket and poor neighbourhoods, as a microcosm of the city of Naples.

Also on this day:

1425: The birth of Bianca Maria Visconti – Duchess of Milan

1675: The birth of Pope Benedict XIV

1941: The birth of comic book artist Franco Bonvicini

1996: The death of auto engineer Dante Giacosa


No comments:

Post a Comment