A semiautobiographical coming-of-age story, framed by the harrowing 1975 Circeo massacre
Edoardo Albinati’s The Catholic School, the winner of Italy’s most prestigious award, The Strega Prize, is a powerful investigation of the heart and soul of contemporary Italy.
Three well-off young men—former students at Rome’s prestigious all-boys Catholic high school San Leone Magno—brutally tortured, raped, and murdered two young women in 1975. The event, which came to be known as the Circeo massacre, shocked and captivated the country, exposing the violence and dark underbelly of the upper middle class at a moment when the traditional structures of family and religion were seen as under threat.
It is this environment, the halls of San Leone Magno in the late 1960s and the 1970s, that Edoardo Albinati takes as his subject. His experience at the school, reflections on his adolescence, and thoughts on the forces that produced contemporary Italy are painstakingly and thoughtfully rendered, producing a remarkable blend of memoir, coming-of-age novel, and true-crime story. Along with indelible portraits of his teachers and fellow classmates—the charming Arbus, the literature teacher Cosmos, and his only Fascist friend, Max—Albinati also gives us his nuanced reflections on the legacy of abuse, the Italian bourgeoisie, and the relationship between sex, violence, and masculinity.
Read an excerpt here.
Praise for The Catholic School
“Painstakingly researched and semi-autobiographical, the novel is based on a brutal real-life crime: the rape, torture, and murder of two young women by three men in 1975. The novel is part true crime, part coming of age, and explores sex, violence, and masculinity in contemporary Italy.”
—The A.V. Club
Edoardo Albinati is a novelist, journalist, and screenwriter who lives in Rome. His novel Svenimenti won the 2004 Viareggio Literary Award, and The Catholic School won the Strega Prize in 2016.
Antony Shugaar is a writer and translator. He is the author of Coast to Coast and I Lie for a Living, and the coauthor, with the late Gianni Guadalupi, of Discovering America and Latitude Zero.