Novelist and translator Nesi's lament for the passing of the way of life that helped Italy recover from the legacy of fascism, now available in English. The book won the 2011 Strega Prize, the most prestigious literary award in Italy.
Along with his brothers, the author was meant to be the third generation to lead his family’s textile weaving company, founded in Prato, Italy, by his grandfather in 1920. Instead, he became the one who had to sell the company in 2004, an act that marked the conclusion of a way of life. Nesi tells the story of the rise and fall of his family's business as part of the small-business world that supplied beautifully made parts and materials for the producers of consumer and capital goods throughout Europe. The author demonstrates a rich literary verve and a novelist’s passion, as literary and cinematographic references work their way into his unfolding lament. His descriptions of the materials and manufacture of the cloth—“yarn-dyed, with a KD finish, rendering its pile unalterable and capable of withstanding the assault of Germany's acid rains and morning frosts”—and designers like Sergio Carpini, “who felt he had the right to perform alchemy with fabrics,” help carry the story. Nesi shows how box-store price cutting and government tax policy combined to prevent businesses from making profits and instead created “the latest and most peculiar of the Prato businessman: the non-profit entrepreneur.” The author mocks economist promoters of globalization as “sorcerers and wizards and haruspices”; their predictions were wrong, and the empty mills and silent businesses of what had been part of Italy's once-thriving economy show the results.
A tour de force that spares no one.