Gotcha! I’m still alive!

What is typically only the reading of judges, police and prosecutors became an unexpected bestseller in 2006. First in Italy and then worldwide, Roberto Saviano’s first book Gomorrha stormed the bestseller lists. In it, the Neapolitan described the workings of the Camorra mafia organization in his hometown from his own experience and with a great deal of research, naming the leaders and perpetrators by their full names.

Because of this attention, he became a target of the mafia and has lived under constant police protection ever since. And it is precisely this, his own threatened and isolated life, that is depicted in the comic strip “Je suis toujours vivant” (“I am still alive”), impressively staged by cartoonist Asaf Hanuka.

Saviano’s life under police protection is traced and narrated by himself. He describes the caution, the constant moving to hotels and apartments where nothing belongs to him. The difficulties of even going to a café, meeting or protecting his family, or simply having a relationship, and on the other hand the support from his readers that gives him strength. Some normality comes only when he occasionally spends time in the U.S. for a few months, where he can travel a little more independently, even if he has to declare his whereabouts to the local authorities and he has to stay in an apartment complex where a number of other vulnerable people live.

The recent assassination of Salman Rushdie, who was the subject of similar death threats, showed us just how deceptive a return to normalcy can be.

The comic itself gives only a small glimpse into the emotional world of a life in constant danger, but even that is already depressing. While Saviano lives the life of a prisoner, the Mafiosi live in freedom. A perverse situation.

The album was published by Archala and is available for $24.99.

Leave a Reply