An Orphan World by Giuseppe Caputo

The almost-naive facade of Giuseppe Caputo's new novel hides an effortlessly multi-layered plot

Book Review by Eris Young | 23 Oct 2019
  • An Orphan World - Giuseppe Caputo
Book title: An Orphan World
Author: Giuseppe Caputo, translated by Sophie Hughes and Juana Adcock

Bound on either side by the sea and the lights of wealthier neighbourhoods, a young man and his father trawl the beaches near their empty home, looking for anything to supplement an unsteady income. Always together and always with an eye towards the stars, the pair find wonder and beauty in the everyday grind.

As purse strings tighten and they clash over the father’s increasingly naive schemes for instant cash, the son immerses himself in the city, exploring his sexuality in encounters with an endless roulette wheel of male bodies, becoming both object and subject of male desire. When a grotesque incident of homophobic violence shakes the neighbourhood, father and son fall in with a cast of lovable reprobates – a motley collection of barflies and addicts.

Gritty but never jaded or mean, on the surface An Orphan World appears almost naive. But this facade hides an effortlessly multi-layered plot that challenges the reader to question everything, blurring the line between observer and observed, human, animal and inanimate object. Flashing back and forth until past and present blend into a single bright moment, Caputo juxtaposes the tender devotion of family against quotidian violence against a jubilant carnival of music, sex and light, in a book that seems to say, “I am you and you are me. We are the same.”

Charco Press, 24 Oct, £9.99