Departments Prepare for Stellfox Award

Jacob DeCarli ’22, Managing Editor

In preparation for the arrival of Italian author and Stellfox Prize winner Roberto Saviano to campus, a group of Dickinson College community members met to discuss his most successful work, Gomorrah. 

Saviano published Gomorrah in 2006 and has received numerous literary awards. Gomorrah details Saviano’s personal account of actions by the mafia based in Naples, Italy. Gomorrah sold over 4 million copies internationally by 2008 and has since been translated into 50 languages. In 2014, Stefano Sollima directed the film Gomorrah based on Saviano’s novel. The same year, Netflix Italia created a 2 season show based on the film/novel. 

Ten people attended the book discussion. The discussion was facilitated by Associate Professor of English Siobhan Phillips and Assistant Professor of English Greg Steirer. Students and community members in attendance studied either English or Italian Studies at the college. Professor of Creative Writing Adrienne Su also attended the discussion. 

Phillips began the discussion and prompted attendees to share their initial thoughts of Gomorrah. She explained the informality of the discussion, and any thoughts of Saviano’s work would be appreciated. Attendees discussed Saviano’s tone in the novel and the feelings of disorientation that he presented to readers. 

The discussion then turned into a debate of Gomorrah’s genre. Steirer questioned if the novel can be considered journalistic, while others agreed or disagreed with his claim. Attendees also questioned Saviano’s authority, as some of his stories about certain characters were not backed with evidence. 

Some attendees shared their thoughts on Gomorrah’s politics. Phillips asked if the novel commented on global capitalism and its effects on the Italian economy. Other attendees noted Saviano’s work as a critique of capitalism. 

Students reacted positively to the event. Julia Chandler ’22 said she appreciated the informal nature of the talk, and that the professors did not teach the material to the students. “I appreciated all the different perspectives each person brought to the group, and I’m glad I went,” she said. Victoria Gralla ’22 said “[I]t was great to hear from professors and students with ranging backgrounds on Saviano.” Julia Barrone ’22 also enjoyed the event. “I thought it was a good discussion about the various topical nuances of the book and Saviano’s upcoming visit.” 

“Stellfox Common Hour Discussion—Roberto Saviano’s Work” took place on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 12 p.m. in East College 411 and was hosted by the English department. Students that RSVP’d for the event received a free copy of Gomorrah. Lunch was also provided for attendees. 

A screening of the film Gomorrah was hosted on Tuesday, March 3 at 7 p.m. in Althouse 106 with a Q & A with Saviano. On Wednesday, March 4, Saviano was presented the Stellfox prize and discuss his work at 7 p.m. in ATS.