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Anna by Niccolò Ammaniti
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Anna (original 2015; edition 2017)

by Niccolò Ammaniti (Author)

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1089189,380 (3.48)None
'One of Italy's brightest literary stars' Observer It is some years since a virus killed all the adults. Now Sicily lies in ruins while the disease lies in wait, poised to claim the children as they reach adolescence. Brave, stubborn thirteen-year-old Anna looks after her brother Astor in the cottage where their mother's skeleton rests, lovingly decorated, in a locked bedroom. She tells him fearsome stories about monsters, hoping to keep him safe at home while she forages among the real hazards. Wild dogs. Gangs of savage, blue-painted kids. But then Astor starts to question Anna's version of the world, just as the blue kids are turning their attention to the cottage-and suddenly, everything will change. Niccolò Ammaniti was born in Rome in 1966. He has written two collections of short stories and six novels, four of which have been translated into English. He was the youngest ever winner of the Italian Viareggio Literary Prize for Fiction for his best-selling novel I'm Not Scared, which has been translated into thirty-five languages. The Crossroads received the Premio Strega Prize in 2007, Italy's equivalent to the Booker Prize. 'As well as conjuring up this excellent characterisation, Ammaniti's prose has a strange, deadpan tenderness that I loved. There is always a sense of hope in the hopelessness. This is a sickeningly wonderful novel, and a perfect example of literary dystopian fiction.' Readings 'With William Golding's Lord of the Flies and Cormac McCarthy's The Road as its touchstones, this dystopian novel pays homage to resilience and survival against the odds in a climate of violence and superstition. It's also a coming-of-age story about a harsh transition to adulthood, with the added stinger that death waits in the wings.' Qantas Magazine 'A fearsomely gifted writer.' Independent 'Ammaniti's writing is sharp, lean and pacy.' Herald Sun 'Ammaniti excels...in capturing the thought processes and fears and desires of children... once you start reading him, you can't put him down.' Sunday Telegraph (UK) 'Surreal but somehow also wholly believable. This book is repulsive and terrifying in all the right ways.' The Best Books We've Read This Year (So Far), Readings 'Ammaniti's prose is faultless from the first . . . A fearsomely gifted writer' Independent 'A writer of rigorous imagination and moral subtlety' Times Literary Supplement 'A master storyteller' Guardian 'Ammaniti is a modern-day Dickens' La Repubblica 'An audacious and elegant post-apocalyptic novel.' Mindfood 'Ammaniti's descriptions have a film-like quality...The story and those images have stayed vivid in my mind's eye. The message this book carries is also important.' Good Readings 'A thought-provoking addition to the genre of science fiction.' ReadPlus 'Stark and confronting, the writing seethes with images of desperation, violence and death...Anna is an unforgettable read.' Otago Daily Times.… (more)
Member:therealdelia
Title:Anna
Authors:Niccolò Ammaniti (Author)
Info:Canongate Books (2018), Edition: Main, 272 pages
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Anna by Niccolò Ammaniti (2015)

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English (6)  Italian (2)  German (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
3.5 *

Niccolò Ammaniti is one of those writers who enjoy success with the reading public and general (if not unanimous) critical acclaim. One of the reasons for this must surely be that he brings a literary sensibility to popular genres, be it novels with a Mafia/"low-life" theme ( such as [b:Io non ho paura|151633|Io non ho paura|Niccolò Ammaniti|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1345927249l/151633._SY75_.jpg|1185887] and the Strega-winner [b:Come Dio comanda|1304612|Come Dio comanda|Niccolò Ammaniti|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1295369878l/1304612._SY75_.jpg|6527293]) or bittersweet coming-of-age stories such as [b:Io e te|9666790|Io e te|Niccolò Ammaniti|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1295688303l/9666790._SY75_.jpg|14549397]. Ammaniti's engagement with pop culture and his ability to read and reflect the "signs of the times" is confirmed by the fact that his books and stories have been made into movies by directors such as Salvatores and Bertolucci, and the title of [b:Ti prendo e ti porto via|1304611|Ti prendo e ti porto via|Niccolò Ammaniti|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1312482672l/1304611._SX50_.jpg|421377] was appropriated by cult Italian rocker Vasco Rossi for his hit single of the same name (belted out in Blasco's trademark half-spoken/shouted style).

In Anna, Ammaniti turns his sights onto the YA market and the dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre which seems to take up quite a chunk of new adult readership. He imagines a Sicily ravaged by a mysterious virus which wipes out adults, leaving only children as survivors. Until they reach puberty, because then the symptoms of the illness appear and they die as well. Further disasters (including uncontrolled fires and explosions) wreak havoc and break down all electronic means of communication. Unsure of the situation in the rest of the world (where, allegedly, a cure might have been found), and with adulthood fast approaching, the protagonist Anna sets out on a journey seeking survival for her and her younger brother Astor.

If I have a reservation about Ammaniti's latest novel, it is that it does not bring anything particularly new to the genre. We've come across "apocalypse by virus" before, not least in Shelley's proto-science-fiction novel [b:The Last Man|966835|The Last Man|Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1392984325l/966835._SY75_.jpg|835097]. There are also obvious parallels with [b:The Road|6288|The Road|Cormac McCarthy|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1439197219l/6288._SY75_.jpg|3355573] whilst the nature of the virus, dubbed "La Rossa", could be a tribute to Poe's Masque of the Red Death. As for children returning to a primitive, violent, cruel state, one could hardly better [b:Lord of the Flies|7624|Lord of the Flies|William Golding|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1327869409l/7624._SY75_.jpg|2766512].

That said, nothing by Ammaniti should be written off. And Anna is, as most of his novels, engaging and, quite often, page-turning. The protagonist is an endearing character - strong and yet sensitive - bravely coming to terms with an oncoming adolescence which, for her, will mean almost certain death. This might not be a groundbreaking novel then, but certainly a well-crafted and gripping one, and several notches above the average YA fare.

I generally prefer to read Italian novels in the original, but I really enjoyed the idiomatic, fluent translation by Jonathan Hunt for Canongate Books. ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Sep 12, 2020 |
Lord Of The Flies writ large. An apocalypse brought on by an incurable virus has swept the world, leaving only pre-prepubescent children unharmed. Anna and her younger brother have survived four years since the virus came and their mother died. Anna was 9, her brother Astor 5. Isolated in an old farmhouse they have managed to survive by dint of Anna's scrounging for food and by following their Mother's advice, written down in an old exercise book as she lay dying.
Circumstances force them to flee their sanctuary and venture out into the wild. Gangs of children roam the countryside searching for food and an answer to the virus. There is no subtlety in the quest for survival, the week tag after the strong, the strong take what they want.
With occasional flashbacks to fill in their backstory we begin to have an idea of who Anna and Astor are. Anna is driven to uphold the promise made to her mother to look after Astor. Every minute, let alone every day, is filled with the challenge to keep them both alive and to teach Astor how to look after himself. Anna has to grow up fast.
Ammaniti cleverly captures the mixture of Anna's childish innocence mixed with worldly ennui as she battles the daily issues of finding food, water and medicines. Narrated through Anna's POV rather than an all seeing wise narrator her problems are those of a child as are her solutions.
It makes you wonder, what would you do? A frightening scenario. ( )
  Robert3167 | Jan 19, 2019 |
One thing’s for sure: Niccolò Ammaniti really doesn’t do upbeat. I remember seeing the film Non ho paura, based on his novel, when I was in Sixth Form and I found it unsettling, powerful and profoundly bleak. The same could be said of this atmospheric novel, set in 2020, which explores a world in which adults have been eradicated by a virus and children are left to fend for themselves. There is more than a hint of Lord of the Flies here, but Ammaniti is interested not so much in the innate savagery of children, as in the power of hope to push us onward, through unimaginable horrors...

For the full review, please see my blog:
https://theidlewoman.net/2017/07/20/anna-niccolo-ammaniti/ ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Nov 15, 2018 |
Ammaniti's books all have one thing in common; they have adolescent lead characters forced to deal with situations and problems beyond their years, usually by the fecklessness and incompetence of the adults who are supposed to protect them. In this case, Ammaniti takes it to extremes, pitching the 13 (or maybe 14) year old Anna, and her 5 year old brother Astor into a post apocalyptic world, a world in which all adults have succumbed to a virus that leaves children unaffected until shortly post puberty. Anna and Astor inherit a Sicily that makes the island of Lord of The Flies look like a creche. As Anna herself puts it "it was if someone watching her from above, writing her story, inventing ever crueller ways of making her suffer, pushing her further and further to see when she'd finally collapse". Quite

In this case, Anna has a parent that isn't feckless. Her mother, Maria, has prepared a detailed book of instructions for when she dies. The first order of business being of course, how to deal with her own corpse. Once Anna has dealt with that, she has to deal with foraging for food, protecting and educating her brother, turning a dog who wants to kill her into a protector, and dealing with large gangs of children who have quickly lost their veneer of civilisation. Whilst knowing of course, that soon enough The Red Fever will get her too

Some of this is fantastic of course; you probably can't pedalo across the Straits of Messina for example. It doesn't matter. This is a story of filial tenderness, the will to live, resourcefulness and adaptivity. And its often very funny. So whilst it may not be as good as "I'll Steal You Away" - one of the 10 best pieces of literary fiction of the last 20 years in my humble opinion - and not as devastating as "I'm Not Scared" or "As God Commands" - its still better than 90 percent of fiction today. Ammaniti's contempt for his generation and hopes for future generations has never been so clear ( )
  Opinionated | Jul 23, 2018 |
I really struggled with this and was tempted to give up early, which I should have done. I really didn't see any redeeming features to it. No interesting insights, no interesting characters. ( )
  pateke | Jun 4, 2018 |
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Niccolò Ammanitiprimary authorall editionscalculated
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There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea
A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he.

Eden Ahbez, 'Nature Boy'
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Hij was drie, misschien vier jaar.
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Een vlinder vloog op uit een johannesbroodboom, zwevend tegen de wind in. Een windvlaag trok hem naar de jongen en het meisje. Hij raakte de haren van Anna en werd naar Astor geduwd, die zijn hand uitstak, heel even rustte hij op de handpalm van het jongetje en hervatte toen zijn wankele vlucht. Vervolgens kwam er nog een vlinder, en nog een, totdat ze werden omhuld door honderden vleugels die als een geel-zwarte sneeuwbui boven de weg dansten.
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'One of Italy's brightest literary stars' Observer It is some years since a virus killed all the adults. Now Sicily lies in ruins while the disease lies in wait, poised to claim the children as they reach adolescence. Brave, stubborn thirteen-year-old Anna looks after her brother Astor in the cottage where their mother's skeleton rests, lovingly decorated, in a locked bedroom. She tells him fearsome stories about monsters, hoping to keep him safe at home while she forages among the real hazards. Wild dogs. Gangs of savage, blue-painted kids. But then Astor starts to question Anna's version of the world, just as the blue kids are turning their attention to the cottage-and suddenly, everything will change. Niccolò Ammaniti was born in Rome in 1966. He has written two collections of short stories and six novels, four of which have been translated into English. He was the youngest ever winner of the Italian Viareggio Literary Prize for Fiction for his best-selling novel I'm Not Scared, which has been translated into thirty-five languages. The Crossroads received the Premio Strega Prize in 2007, Italy's equivalent to the Booker Prize. 'As well as conjuring up this excellent characterisation, Ammaniti's prose has a strange, deadpan tenderness that I loved. There is always a sense of hope in the hopelessness. This is a sickeningly wonderful novel, and a perfect example of literary dystopian fiction.' Readings 'With William Golding's Lord of the Flies and Cormac McCarthy's The Road as its touchstones, this dystopian novel pays homage to resilience and survival against the odds in a climate of violence and superstition. It's also a coming-of-age story about a harsh transition to adulthood, with the added stinger that death waits in the wings.' Qantas Magazine 'A fearsomely gifted writer.' Independent 'Ammaniti's writing is sharp, lean and pacy.' Herald Sun 'Ammaniti excels...in capturing the thought processes and fears and desires of children... once you start reading him, you can't put him down.' Sunday Telegraph (UK) 'Surreal but somehow also wholly believable. This book is repulsive and terrifying in all the right ways.' The Best Books We've Read This Year (So Far), Readings 'Ammaniti's prose is faultless from the first . . . A fearsomely gifted writer' Independent 'A writer of rigorous imagination and moral subtlety' Times Literary Supplement 'A master storyteller' Guardian 'Ammaniti is a modern-day Dickens' La Repubblica 'An audacious and elegant post-apocalyptic novel.' Mindfood 'Ammaniti's descriptions have a film-like quality...The story and those images have stayed vivid in my mind's eye. The message this book carries is also important.' Good Readings 'A thought-provoking addition to the genre of science fiction.' ReadPlus 'Stark and confronting, the writing seethes with images of desperation, violence and death...Anna is an unforgettable read.' Otago Daily Times.

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