Ferocity resists classification as a whodunnit, focusing instead on the corruption coursing through a society desperate to seem more moneyed than it is ... The narrative jumps between present-day and historical interactions and events, lending it a filmic quality whose scenes build an overall portrait of the wider vanity, greed and violence that led to Clara’s death. It’s a work of startling energy and structural precision, an ambitious novel whose linguistic brilliance is frequently at odds with the twists and turns of Michele’s quest for the truth.
...[an] inconvenient, untamed, but ultimately brilliant novel ... one of his main projects in this aptly titled novel is plumbing the depths of our wildness, uncovering once and for all the line that separates man from beast. His conclusions — like his vivid prose and tangled plot — are intoxicatingly complex and discomfitingly circular ... The above makes Lagioia’s plot sound hard-boiled, but it is actually meandering, philosophical, and dizzyingly layered. I Am Love meets Toni Morrison, The Godfather meets Love Medicine. The layers not only advance the story but also complicate our understanding of this world of men on the brink and women surrendering to despair ... one of the weaknesses of the novel [:] Because Clara dies in the first chapter, very few pages are devoted to her point of view and the ones that are suffer from a frustrating brand of lyricism doing little to mask the fact that her actions are often contradictory to the point of absurdity.
Though Ferocity adopts the trappings of a stylish thriller, it has the ambitions of a social novel. Here is where Clara’s real usefulness as a device emerges. Like the baseball in Don DeLillo’s Underworld, her role is to link characters who would otherwise have been difficult to bring together ... But having assembled this material, Lagioia doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. In place of insight, his characters dispense banalities about globalization and the facts of industrial pollution. The book’s main target is the corruption of Italy’s ruling class by decades of neoliberal economic policies. This would be a good subject for a novel; but rather than pursue it, Ferocity retreats into abstraction. Its message, underscored by the interstitial vignettes of predator and prey in the animal world that punctuate the action, is that life is a jungle. Man is wolf to man. The strong take what they want and the weak suffer — although perhaps it is possible to gain a temporary reprieve from this state through the love of a good woman. Did another beautiful female character have to die just for this?
...his sumptuous opener seems to set up a typical murder mystery, but it quickly wields allegory, social realism, domestic drama, and myth to create a layered and expansive novel ... As Michele continues to explore and expand the faults that led to his sister’s death, Ferocity develops a numbing bleakness ... The murder mystery, the family drama, and the urban portrait each inform the others, and the sprawl of narratives creates a portrait of a city’s deprivation and a brother’s desperate attempts at redemption.
Complex, darkly absorbing and mysterious literary fiction ... Lagioia’s prose—in Shugaar’s translation—depicts a family living far from the ease it projects; loyalties and betrayals painted in shades of gray; and a violently alive setting that plays off its characters.”
Lagioia makes his enthralling English-language debut, translated into dazzling prose by Shugaar ... Not recommended for the casual reader (or easily scandalized), but those who persevere will be swept up in a rich and rewarding literary experience. A mesmerizing exploration of failure, resilience, and profound, multifaceted loss.
Lagioia drifts between timelines as Clara’s family, lovers, and acquaintances slowly reveal how she drew them into the web of the Salveminis and how they witnessed her unraveling. This oblique kaleidoscopic approach allows the mystery to slowly and captivatingly resolve while offering a layered portrait of contemporary Italian life and the abuses of power that money can excuse.