Cover image for God's mountain
God's mountain
De Luca, Erri, 1950-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Montedidio. English
First Riverhead trade paperback edition.
Publication Information:
New York: Riverhead Books, 2002.
Physical Description:
168 pages ; 18 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



This is a story told by a boy in his thirteenth year, recorded in his secret diary. His life is about to chan≥ his world, about to open.

He lives in Montedidio--God's Mountain--a cluster of alleys in the heart of Naples. He brings a paycheck home every Saturday from Mast'Errico's carpentry workshop where he sweeps the floor. He is on his way to becoming a man--his boy's voice is abandoning him. His wooden boomerang is neither toy nor tool, but something in between. Then there is Maria, the thirteen-year-old girl who lives above him and, like so many girls, is wiser than he. She carries the burden of a secret life herself. She'll speak to him for the first time this summer. There is also his friendship with a cobbler named Rafaniello, a Jewish refugee who has escaped the horrors of the Holocaust, who has no idea how long he's been on this earth, and who is said to sprout wings for a blessed few.

It is 1963, a young man's summer of discovery. A time for a boy with innocent hands and a pure heart to look beyond the ordinary in everyday things to see the far-reaching landscape, and all of its possibilities, from a rooftop terrace on God's Mountain.

Author Notes

Erri De Luca is an Italian author, translator, and poet, born in Naples in 1950. His first book, Non ora, non qui (Not now, not here), was published in 1989. He has published over fifty books including "Il più e il meno", and "La Faccia delle nuvole", in 2016. His awards includes the 2013 European Prize for Literature for his body of work. He was the winner of the 2016 Bad S-x in Fiction award for the book, The Day Before Happiness.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

An international best-seller, this spare novel shares similar themes with De Luca's earlier novel, Sea of Memory (1999), also a coming-of-age story about first love, the weight of history, and the horrors of the Holocaust. In first-person diary entries, a 13-year-old boy records his daily life in God's Mountain, a poor area of Naples. The boy writes about his first job, his changing body, and Maria, a girl his age who moves into the boy's home after the death of his mother to help care for his grieving father. Filled with the weight and wonder of newly discovered adult responsibilities, love and sex, and the rough life of his neighborhood, the boy's language still maintains the easy magic of childhood, superstitions, and the logic of dreams: a beloved friend--a Holocaust survivor--grows wings in the hump of his rounded back, eventually disappearing. More impressionistic than linear, this is a haunting, atmospheric novel that muses on religion, language, community, and what it means to be an adult, all against the backdrop of a rough, often violent port city where "you grow up quickly." --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

With a surreal and quiet economy reminiscent of Max Frisch's Man in the Holocene (or perhaps Beckett's Ill Seen, Ill Said, only without the verbal gymnastics), this international bestseller has some of the innocent charm of Saint-Exupry and much of the darkness to which European literary fiction is heir. The narrative is the diary of a 13-year-old boy at the cusp of manhood in an isolated world. The setting is Montedidio, or "God's Mountain," a "neighborhood of alleyways" in Naples, Italy, in the 1960s. The unnamed narrator struggles to learn "proper Italian" in lieu of his native dialect as he labors at a carpentry workshop and stoically observes the inexorable decline of his mother's health. His upstairs neighbor, Maria, a sadly wise girl his own age who's been seduced by their landlord, initiates his sexual experience. The tableau of near-grotesques includes a good-hearted homosexual printer, a hunchbacked Jewish cobbler who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, and the sensed presence of spirits and angels. The language, while simple, has surprising, fresh moments: the cobbler's cheerful stories "pump" the narrator's bones "full of air." Teardrops "burst" from eyes "with a shot from inside." While little new ground is covered, the book is effective in its poignant immediacy, as the narrator bears the rigors of a lonely and tragic coming of age. The story also chronicles the narrator's central passion: his boomerang, a gift from his father. As a simple and elegant trope, the boomerang encompasses both the freedom and hope inherent in his longing to escape, as well as the futility of his aspirations. After all, it flies far, but returns no matter how hard he tries to cast it away. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Montedidio is a poor neighborhood in Naples where in 1960 a 13-year-old takes a giant step toward manhood. He leaves school and goes to work for a carpenter; meets Maria, who awakens his sexuality; and makes friends with a cobbler, Rafaniello, a Jewish refugee from the horrors of World War II. Rafaniello, a hunchback, says his hump contains angel wings that some day will unfold so he can fly to Jerusalem. For his birthday, the teen's father gives him a boomerang, a gift from a sailor, and it becomes his talisman; he wears it inside his shirt and builds his strength by pretending to throw it. His mother is dying, and Papa spends all his time at the hospital, so the boy is on his own, but for his girlfriend. With his wife's death, his father's world crumbles, and the boy becomes his support and comfort. On New Year's Eve, he finally throws the boomerang from the rooftop of his building and Rafaniello flings himself into the night sky, leaving behind two feathers. The boy's diary reveals his innermost thoughts as he faces loss, finds love, and learns self-reliance, all in six months. Written with eloquence and simplicity, this novella describes the universal challenges of adolescence, irrespective of time and place.-Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.