Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review: LET THE GAMES BEGIN, by Niccolò Ammaniti

Let the Games Begin, by Niccolò Ammaniti. Published 2009 by Black Cat/Grove Atlantic. Translated from the Italian by Kylee Doust. Literary Fiction.

In Ammaniti's 2009 satire on celebrity culture, a washed-up writer and a group of half-assed Satanists attend an over-the-top bacchanalia thrown by a mafioso. Toss in a pop singer with a heart of gold, a group of feral Russian Olympians and a zoo's worth of wild animals and buckle up.

Fabrizio Ciba is a one-time literary success now resting on his aging laurels but yearning for real literary respectability. Saviero Moneta, aka Mantos, is the leader of a Satanist society called the Wild Beasts of Abbadon, frustrated with his life and yearning for another kind of "I'll show them" notoriety. Ciba gets an invitation to an elaborate soiree and decides it's just the thing to help him relaunch himself; Moneta sees the opportunity of a lifetime too, for mayhem and fame, and he targets a pop singer for assassination.

Pretty much all of the characters in this black comedy are unlikable jerks; you need to know going in that you are not going to like anyone here, except maybe the sweet singer Larita. But Ammaniti's most recent book to be translated into English is still a really good time. Raucous. A little raunchy. Definitely politically incorrect. And not everyone gets the ending they deserve.

I couldn't put this book down once it got going. There are parts of it that are sort of ridiculous. Especially towards the end. But it's really fun, if you can suspend your moral center for a little while, and overlook the horror of what goes on at times. The suspense towards the end is actually pretty suffocating. It is definitely not as serious as Ammaniti's other books and probably not as serious as most things I read. There was a little sadness at the end, but I laughed a lot. You might too.

Rating: BEACH

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.