Thursday, November 05, 2009
I'm reading Roberto Saviano's Gomorrah. I'd seen the film first, which I think is actually fairly faithful - at least to the sense of the book, if not quite the sequence or precise arrangement of the episodes it catalogues: the dilapidation of Scampia's concrete monstrosities; the inventive yet nonetheless cheap horror of the violence; the way in which a consciously fatalistic lust for power ends up seeming the only comprehensible reaction; and above all, the total integration into and indeed perfect service of the global economy. But one thing above any other struck me. Although it's quite shocking to think that Pelle Italiane and the other faux designer shops on the Seven Sisters Road are probably run by Camorristi, or to read reports of the blankness of adolescents in Naples' hinterland, the death toll really stops the breath. The Troubles, assuming Saviano and Wikipedia are to be trusted, did not manage to kill more people than intra-Camorra feuds from the mid-seventies onwards. Admittedly, Northern Ireland has a smaller population than the Province of Naples, but presumably a greater proportion of the killings took place in the Province of Naples. The average rate of Camorra killings alone is higher than the present homicide rate for any Western European state. In comparison, the total number of murders in London in the year to September was 128; that's 13 less than the average of organised crime killings over the twenty seven years to 2005 for an area with less than half population. If people must make comparisons to The Wire, then rundown areas of the UK seem not to be the place to start.