It’s 2005. The Italian secret service has received intel that a group of Muslim immigrants based in the Viale Marconi neighborhood of Rome is planning a terrorist attack. Christian Mazzari, a young Sicilian who speaks perfect Arabic, goes undercover to infiltrate the group and to learn who its leaders are. Christian poses as Issa, a recently arrived Tunisian in search of for a job and a place to sleep. He soon meets Sofia, a young Egyptian immigrant dressed in a burqa who lives in the neighborhood with her husband Said, a.k.a. Felice, an architect who has reinvented himself in Italy as a pizza cook.
So, to start off with this book is not really to do with divorce at all. It does feature it slightly and explains how divorce works in Islam which I found particularly interesting however the primary focus is on the immigrant experience in Rome. I found this book randomly while browsing through my library catalogue and I thought the name was so interesting, I just had to check it out!
The novel focuses on Christian who is posing as a recent immigrant and so through him, you get a glimpse of immigrant life in Rome as he is living in an overcrowded apartment and the friends he makes are all struggling with the bureaucratic system that make things very difficult for immigrants. Another main character is that of Sofia who has moved to Rome to join her husband who works in a pizza restaurant. Sofia doesn’t love her husband and instead has ambitious plans to be a hairdresser instead which she does part-time. The novel switches between the viewpoints of the two characters until their lives intertwine.
The novel is a very fun lighthearted tale that also is not afraid to tackle the issues facing immigrants, particularly Muslim immigrants, in Rome. I really enjoyed this novel and would highly recommend it. It’s also great for those doing the Book Riot Read Harder challenge as it is ideal for number 5, a book with a central immigration narrative.