This is another Italian book without an English translation, at least not one you can buy on Amazon.The story is about a group of orphans that escapes from the orphanage to participate in the secret world championship of StreetBall. StreetBall is a specific variation of the football played along the streets of nearly everywhere with much passion and fantasy. The Great Bastard himself, the God of all the orphans, has dictated the rules for Street Ball.
The story takes place in the rich and corrupted country of Gladonia. The orphans are chase both by the (equally rich and corrupted) church in the person of Don Biffero and Don Bracco and the media personified by the journalist Fimicoli. And behind those pawns the egoarch Mussolardi supreme ruler and mostly owner of Gladonia.
As I have already expressed before in other posts, Benni is one of my favorite writers. In this case he manages to achieve a good tale telling, while keeping a meta register. Situations and characters usually live at different levels. The story level is nice, but the plot twists are a bit forced, situations are mostly resolved via Deus Ex Machina. The next level is satirical, Benni portrays the changing Italy, a beautiful country losing its genuine and true origins to progress, corruption, hypocrisy and indifference. What was clean and nice now is polluted, what once was quiet and calm now is crowded and noisy, what once was honest and private, now is criminal and reality show.
Characters are caricatures of real people, the county politician, the clergymen, the orphans, the media, the TV channel owner, and the army.
At a deeper level we find messages. Messages about what is going wrong and what would doom us. The strong message is about the importance of unadulterated youth. Children deserve to grow in a free and genuine environment. Benni strongly criticizes everything menacing this.
I have to admit that I lost most of these deeper levels at my first reading. But the book is so intriguing that the second read was swift.