Malacqua Book Cover
Nicola Pugliese


After a four-day deluge, Naples is flooded. Buildings collapse, sinkholes appear. Strange events spread across the city: ghostly voices emanate from a medieval castle and five-lire coins begin to play music, but only to ten-year-old children. A melancholy journalist searches for meaning as the narrative takes us into the minds of those who have suffered in the floods.

Despite phenomenal initial success, the novel was withdrawn from publication at the author’s request, and not reissued until after his death in 2012. Now translated into English for the first time, Malacqua remains a timely critique and a richly peopled portrait of a much-mythologised city.

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  • The publication of Malacqua in English marks the fortieth anniversary of the original Italian publication by Italo Calvino at Einaudi.
Print status: Available
Translator: Shaun Whiteside
Original language: Italian
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 16 November 2017
ISBN: 9781911508069
Ebook ISBN: 9781911508076
Availability: World
Number of pages: 208


Toby Lichtig
The Wall Street Journal

‘A lyrical, caustic and highly fantastical imagining of a Naples beset by a biblical deluge . . . Malacqua is a beguiling portrait of a fractured city, with its jostle of voices and competing desires.’

Ian Thomson
The Financial Times

‘Nicola Pugliese was a writer who challenged the clichéd view of Naples as a city of gangsters, mandolins and “O Sole Mio” . . . His fiaba vesuviana (Vesuvian fairytale), superbly translated by Shaun Whiteside, is a beautiful and haunting exploration of life at a meteorological extreme.’

Anna Aslanyan
The Times Literary Supplement

‘A picture . . . of a city suspended in melancholy . . . The atmosphere of a flood is created by a free-flowing stream of consciousness, alternately intensifying and subsiding, and Shaun Whiteside’s sensitive translation never lets the original down.’

The Spectator, Books of the Year 2017

‘This year’s strangest and most seductive book.’

Boyd Tonkin
The Economist 1843

'This rediscovered classic has a back-story almost as uncanny as its mood . . . The skies clear, but the mystery lingers in this clammily unsettling tale.’

Catherine Taylor
The New Statesman

Malacqua is a brooding novel, with flashes of brilliance . . . Pugliese’s narrative is epic in intent . . . [combining] reportage with nightmarish indications of the insidiousness of the new waterscape, absurdism and phantasmagoria.’

Lee Langley
The Spectator

‘Nicola Pugliese’s novel has its own compelling voice, filled with the sound of water rushing, gushing, flowing, hammering on rooftops, falling in threads from the sky.’

Lucy Scholes
Tha National

'The narrative slips with a watery fluidity between various of the city’s residents . . . the point of view cascading between the individual and collective with an ease reminiscent of the stream of consciousness technique demonstrated by writers in the early years of the 20th century . . . The citizens of Naples watch the destruction of their city waiting for an “extraordinary event” to bring things to a head; this, they suspect is “merely the start of the transformation”. Whether or not their fears come true, readers can discover for themselves. What’s not in doubt, however, is the extraordinariness of this haunting, eerie novel.’