Spit Three Times by Davide Reviati

Davide Reviati’s graphic novel is a work of rich artistry impossible to forget

Book Review by Anahit Behrooz | 16 Apr 2020
  • Spit Three Times
Book title: Spit Three Times
Author: Davide Reviati, trans. by Jamie Richards

In a remote village in Italy, Guido and his fellow slacker friends pass their days skipping school, smoking joints and playing pool in the local bar. Entangled in their Ferrante-esque lives are the Stančič, a family of Romani who fled Yugoslavia and fascist Germany for safety, only to be met with renewed suspicion and xenophobia by Guido and his community.

Davide Reviati’s graphic novel unravels as a memory-soaked, coming-of-age tale, interspersed with historical accounts of the Romani people’s violent plight under the Third Reich. Some of the panels are breath-taking in their simplicity, the minimal swipes of black ink conveying the stagnation and frustration of both post-war Europe and adolescent masculinity. The narrative isn’t always easy to follow, with flashbacks and scene changes blurring indiscriminately into one another, but this isn’t necessarily a criticism: it adds to the novel’s dreamy, impressionistic quality, the half-remembered stories highlighting how memory comes to form our later identities.

Spit Three Times is a novel that is almost impossibly fluid, conveying the haze of the summer it yearns to remember and the fumbling desperation of the marginalised and neglected. Hard to grasp but almost impossible to forget, it is a work of rich and poignant artistry. 

Seven Stories Press, £22.99, 23 Apr