The Last Man Standing by Davide Longo
Review by Floresiensis
Fantasy Book Review Book of the Month, October 2012
Davide Longo’s The Last Man Standing has been brilliantly translated from its native Italian by Silvester Mazzarella and the English speaking world can now read and cherish a fine example of dystopian fiction, so elegantly written and so powerfully evocative that it deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in being regarded as a classic of the genre.
The Last Man Standing is set in a near-future Europe which is entering the final stages of civil breakdown. Murderous gangs of armed and drugged youths roam the countryside, free from morality and restraint. In the towns and cities, shops and banks lie empty, money has no worth, food and fuel are scarce, and law, order and justice are but memories. Leonardo, a divorced and disgraced university professor, has managed to survive by lying low and avoiding confrontation. But when his ex-wife appears out of the blue and puts their teenage daughter and the son of her new husband into his care, he understands that it is time to shake off his malaise and bring the children to safety.
Longo, who is considered to be amongst the best Italian writers of his generation, almost certainly uses Italy as the setting for this intellectually challenging book, although this is never confirmed. The author’s depiction of a country’s descent back into barbarity is beautifully written, chillingly plausible and Leonardo’s initial inaction and inability to comprehend the full extent of the future he and his country now face will resonate with every reader. The characterisation is excellent and the admirably unrushed narrative spends as much time on the ordinary and mundane as it does on the horrific and this approach makes the latter that much more shocking and explosive when it occurs.
The Last Man Standing is a must read in the dystopian fiction genre, less bleak but no less moving than The Road and a book that’s ending is nothing short of perfection. A disturbing yet strangely uplifting look at a future we can all only pray never comes to be. A special mention must go to Silvester Mazzarella who has managed to lose nothing in translation and every sentence is precise, crisp and a joy to read.
Michael from United Kingdom
This book is just brilliant, i loved it, this and Cinda Chima's seven realms novels like The Crimson Crown are my favourites of all time.
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