ROME: Rosaria Capacchione, who has been reporting on the Naples-area Camorra mafia for two decades, does not begrudge the success of 29-year-old bestselling author Roberto Saviano.
On the contrary, Capacchione urges everyone to read Saviano s novel Gomorrah, which has sold some 1.2 million copies in Italy since it came out in 2006 and has been translated into 42 languages.
All books contribute to the understanding of the Camorra, said Capacchione, who has a solid reputation among Naples-area lawyers, police and judges.
Saviano was in elementary school when I started writing for Il Mattino, a daily in Caserta, the town near Naples that is their stronghold, observed the 48-year old Capacchione.
What I write is in the public domain. I don t have an aristocratic idea of my work. When he asked if he could use my material I was more than happy to agree, Capacchione said, adding: He is doing his job as an author.
Like Saviano, this energetic woman is under police protection.
Saviano shot to fame with his book, which was subsequently made into a film of the same name by Matteo Garrone that won second prize at this year s Cannes film festival.
While Saviano travels to book fairs from Paris to Stockholm, Capacchione made the short trip to Rome this week to unveil her first book, The Gold of the Camorra, a non-fiction look at the crime syndicate s business operations.
I explain why the Camorra kill each other: for money, she said, adding: The Camorra weigh on the economic activity of the entire region. It s really not simple to work here.
An added problem is that the local government is slow to pay contractors, who wind up turning to the mafia for loans. Only those with significant resources can make it; the rest go bust or give in to the pressures of the Camorra, Capacchione said.
Her book, which came out in mid-November, attracted particular notice both within and outside Italy thanks to the impact of Saviano s work.
But Capacchione bristles at attempts to pit her against Saviano. This debate is meaningless, she said, likening Gomorrah to The Day of the Owl, a classic novel on the Sicilian Mafia written nearly 50 years ago by Leonardo Sciascia.
Sciascia was also criticized at the time, she said. But both succeeded in capturing a phenomenon through fiction.
Now, after the success of Gomorrah and the horror of the murder of six Africans, the media have become aware of the reality, she said, referring to twin attacks on Sept. 18 targeting six African immigrants and an Italian man in the Castel Volturno area near Caserta blamed on the Camorra.
Since receiving death threats last spring during the so-called Spartacus trial of the Camorra s feared Casalesi clan, Capacchione does not go anywhere without her three police bodyguards.
She and Saviano are not the only ones, she noted. Lirio Abbate, 38, the Palermo correspondent of the ANSA news agency, is also under protection.
But Capacchione said she had no plans to leave Caserta, adding: My newspaper has always supported me.
An Il Mattino reporter, Giancarlo Siani, was murdered by the Camorra in 1985 when he was only 26. His killers were finally convicted and sentenced to life in prison after a 10-year investigation and a trial that went on for eight years.