Ammaniti, Niccolò 1966–
Ammaniti, Niccolò 1966–
PERSONAL: Born September 25, 1966, in Rome, Italy; son of Massimo Ammaniti (a psychologist). Education: Attended Rome University. Hobbies and other interests: Music, films, reading, vacationing in the countryside.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Anchor Books, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Novelist, short story writer, journalist, and screenwriter. Appeared in film Cresceranno i carciofi a Mimongo, 1996; worked as a fish-breeder while a student.
AWARDS, HONORS: Viareggio-Repaci award for fiction, 2001, for Io non ho paura.
Branchie! (novel; title means "Gills"), illustrated by Alberto Piccini, Ediesse (Rome, Italy), 1994, revised edition, 1997.
(With father, Massimo Ammaniti) Nel nome del filgio: l'adolescenza raccontata da un padre e da un figlio (psychological treatise), Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1995.
Fango (short stories; title means "Mud"), Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1996.
Anche il sole fa schifo (radio play), RAI ERI (Rome, Italy), 1997.
L'ultimo capodanno dell'umanità (novel; title means "The Last New Year's Eve of Humanity"), Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1998.
Ti prendo e ti porto via (novel; title means "I'll Grab You and Carry You Away"), Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1999.
Io non ho paura (novel), Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 2001, translated by Jonathan Hunt as I'm Not Scared, Canongate (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2003, Anchor Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Gone Bad (screenplay), 2001.
Fa un po' male, Micromega, 2002, published in graphic-novel form, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 2004.
(With Francesca Marciano) Io non ho paura (screenplay; adapted from his novel; also known as I'm Not Scared), 2003.
(With Antonio Manzini) Il siero della vanità (screenplay; also known as The Vanity Serum), 2004.
Contributor to books, including La giungla sotto l'asfalto, Ediesse, 1993; Gioventù cannibale (short stories), edited by Daniele Brolli, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1996; Tutti i denti del mostro sono perfetti, Mondadori, 1997; Il fagiano Jonathan Livingstone—manifesto contro la new age, Minimum Fax, 1998; and Italia odia, Mondadori, 2000. Contributor to periodicals.
ADAPTATIONS: L'ultimo capodanno dell'umanità was adapted as the film L'ultimo capodanno, 1998; Branchie! was adapted as a film of the same name, 1999.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Meno 273, a novel.
SIDELIGHTS: Niccolò Ammaniti began his career as a writer as the result of getting caught in a white lie. He studied biology at Rome University, but only passed sixteen of the eighteen exams necessary to graduate. However, he told his father that he had passed the other two and was ready to begin work on his thesis. His father generously loaned Ammaniti his study for three months so his son would have a suitable place to work on his thesis, and Ammaniti, now stuck in his lie, needed something to work on. He chose to start a novel, a story about a fish-breeder with terminal lung cancer. The resulting novel, Branchie!, starts out bleak, but halfway through life begins to look up, albeit in a surreal way, for the fish-breeder. The turnaround in the man's circumstances sprang from a turnaround in Ammaniti's own life while he was writing: One of Ammaniti's friends worked in publishing and was looking for manuscripts for a series of books by unpublished writers. He was impressed by Ammaniti's half-finished book and promised to publish it upon completion.
Ammaniti is best known for his 2001 novel Io non ho paura, which was published in English translation as I'm Not Scared. The book won the prestigious Viareggio-Repaci award, making its thirty-four-year-old author the youngest ever to win that prize. The tale is narrated by the now-adult Michele Arnitrano as he looks back on the year 1978, when he was nine years old. At that time, Michele lived with his parents and little sister in a tiny village in southern Italy "that is sweltering, claustrophobic, and rife with desperation and despair," Joseph DeMarco explained in Kliatt. One summer day, while out playing with friends, Michele discovers a boy around his age who has been kid-napped and is being kept in a hole in the ground near an abandoned house. Michele, wanting to help the boy, starts to bring him food, and as the boy regains his strength he tells Michele how he wound up there. His story shatters Michele's young world and forces him to make some excruciatingly difficult choices about loyalty and morality. The book is "rich in setting and detail," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor, while a Publishers Weekly critic predicted that "readers will find this accomplished work hard to put down and even harder to forget."
Ammaniti adapted I'm Not Scared for the screen shortly after the book was published. The third of Ammaniti's books to become a movie—Branchie! and L'ultimo capodanno dell'umanità were also adapted for film—it was the first for which Ammaniti wrote the screenplay. Like the novel version, the film I'm Not Scared was highly praised. As David Rooney wrote in Daily Variety, "Ammaniti's sensitive, richly evocative novel,"" provides an uncommonly concrete narrative by the standards of contemporary Italian cinema." Hollywood Reporter contributor Kirk Honeycutt described the film as "a simple, beautifully told story, the memory of which lingers gracefully in the mind long after the final image fades."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Daily Variety, February 10, 2003, David Rooney, review of I'm Not Scared, p. 9.
Entertainment Weekly, April 16, 2004, Lisa Schwarzbaum, "I'm Not Scared: Beauty and Dread Saturate a Moody Italian Thriller," p. 57.
Hollywood Reporter, February 11, 2003, Kirk Honeycutt, review of I'm Not Scared, p. 73.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2002, review of I'm Not Scared, p. 1783.
Kliatt, May, 2004, Nola Theiss, review of I'm Not Scared, p. 52; September, 2004, Joseph DeMarco, review of I'm Not Scared, p. 18.
New Statesman, June 16, 2003, review of I'm Not Scared, p. 55.
Publishers Weekly, December 23, 2002, review of I'm Not Scared, p. 44.
Spectator, John de Falbe, "The Boy Who Saw Too Much and Too Little," p. 39.
Sydney Morning Herald, May 10, 2003, Desmond O'Grady, "How to Succeed without Really Failing."
Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (May 12, 2005), "Niccolò Ammaniti."
Niccolò Ammaniti Home Page, http://www.niccoloammaniti.com (May 6, 2005).