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What Hell Is Not

Alessandro d’Avenia will talk about his novel What Hell Is Not at the British Library and the Oxford Literary Festival.

Translated Fiction Showcase
Thursday, 4 April
British Library

What Hell Is Not
Friday, 5 April 2019
St Cross College, Oxford

More information and bookings on the websites of the British Library and the Oxford Literary Festival.

The novel. Sicily, 1993. Fear rules the streets of Palermo. Teenage boys patrol the narrow streets armed with guns, marking out the territory of their mafia bosses. This is what hell is.
Federico, a privileged local boy, is asked by his teacher, Don Pino, to help out at the youth club he runs in one of the most destitute areas of the city. A tangle of alleys controlled by men with nicknames like The Hunter, it is also where kids like Francesco, Lucia and Totò never give up hope for a different life. Over that long hot summer, far removed from his familiar surroundings, a new world opens up for Federico, but when Don Pino is murdered, the future of the kids is entrusted to his young hands.
Based on real events, What Hell Is Not is a heartrending story of deprivation and resilience that ultimately demonstrates the transformative power of small acts of love.

Alessandro D’Avenia teaches Ancient Greek, Latin and Italian Literature at a high school in Milan and is a regular contributor to the newspaper Corriere della Sera, writing on the subjects of literature and education. His debut novel, White as Milk, Red as Blood, was translated into twenty-two languages and turned into a film. Together with his second novel, it spent three years on the Italian fiction top ten bestseller list, selling more than one million copies in Italy alone. What Hell Is Not is his third novel.


  • Organizzato da: British Library, Oxford Literary Festival
  • In collaborazione con: ICI London