Giovanni ‘O Scugnizzo
New Novel by Joe Polacco
An immigrant family story (historical fiction genre)
Giovanni was my immigrant great grandfather. I was born five years after his 1939 passing, both events taking place in South Brooklyn. My mother, Vina, related precious snippets of her beloved grandfather Giovanni’s (mis)adventures, habits, sayings, and quirks. I should have paid more attention—such a sad, common, refrain.
But Giovanni and I have now interacted: By frame-shifting his life at least thirty years, to 1969, I benefited from his wisdom and resonated with his doubts. I found him surprisingly deep, yet a fun guy who loved his Filomena, family, nature, his own wine, and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Giovanni’s journey from Neapolitan street urchin (scugnizzo) to successful Brooklyn businessman nurtured a discerning eye for scugnizzo tendencies among American authorities.
“The Immigrant Experience” compelled me to write Giovanni’s story. He loved America, though it oft gave him acid indigestion, the àgita not always remedied with a shot of BrioschiTM. In the dialects of Naples and Brooklyn, citizen Giovanni dealt with racism, foreign wars, a flu pandemic, the Great Depression, Mussolini’s long arm, Italian American internment, a polio epidemic, civil rights/anti-war movements, the American justice system, and the American mob. In any accent the story is American.
Five hundred years of immigration, from voluntary to forced, form the fabric of an American weave. (With deep indebtedness to Native Americans who constructed the weaving box over many millennia.) Giovanni’s thread goes back to Naples, Italy, around the turn of the twentieth century. His story is historical fiction which behooved me to make that history an accurate backdrop to Giovanni’s family story. While most family escapades and experiences in Giovanni are real, several have been transposed to different generations. Family last names have been changed and new members introduced, to portray relations among immigrant groups.Let Giovanni help you find your own interwoven immigrant thread. Find Giovanni and Filomena online, at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. (Also, in local Columbia, MO outlets: Skylark, Yellow Dog, Mizzou Bookstore and Broadway D&H Drugstore.)
From readers, on the Amazon site: “. . . a well-written, engaging novel. I came to care very much about the characters. I also learned a lot of American history that is not taught in school.”
“. . . the reader continues to the end wanting to know more about the exploits and fate of each character. . . poignant, honest, and entertaining . . . a true-to-life rendering of the Italian American experience from 1885 to 1970, from Naples and Campania to Brooklyn, NY.”
Buy Giovanni Online
Barnes and Noble
Buy Giovanni Locally
The Mizzou Store
Yellow Dog Bookshop