The Break: Italian bribery and billiards

From The Independent:

Bookreview_628520t The Break is small and perfectly formed. This is just as well, since reaching its end leaves the reader desirous to start all over again, and/or furious at its brevity. This is all the more surprising since the subject of the novel is billiards – not one about which I have ever felt passionate. No more have I ever held an interest in boxing, yet I still voted for the young Italian writer Pietro Grossi's Fists to win last year's Premio Campiello. As with his literary inspiration Hemingway's novels on safari hunting and bullfights, the glory is in the writing – here succinctly rendered in Howard Curtis's translation.

As in Fists, style beats content in being spare without being sparse, taut without seeming tight. Both novels are about duels to the death, and each ends in surprising reversals and redefinitions of winning and losing. The Break sees the world through the eyes of Dino, who generally keeps those eyes down to ground level, laying roads. In the detail of using first paving slabs and then tarmac, working alongside the immigrants Saeed and Blondie for an increasingly corrupt chain of municipal officials, Dino gradually apprehends the backhanded way things are done in his provincial town.

More here.