An unputdownable look at class and national identity today.
Alberto Prunetti arrives in England, the twenty-something year old son of a Tuscan factory worker who has never left home before. With only broken English, his wits, and an obsession with the work of George Orwell to guide him, he sets about looking for a job and navigating his new home.
In between laboring in pizzerias and cleaning toilets up and down the country, he finds his place among the British precariat. His comrades form a polyglot underclass, among them an ex-addict cook, a cleaner in love with opera, an elderly Shakespearean actor, Turks impersonating Neapolitans to serve pizzas, and a cast of petty criminals “resting” between bigger jobs.
Stuck between a past haunted by Thatcher and a future dominated by Brexit, Down and Out in England and Italy is a hilarious and poignant snapshot of life on the margins in modern day Britain.
“A hallucinatory and savage account of modern working life. Both surreal and instantly recognizable.”— Jeff Sparrow, author of No Way But This
“A hallucinatory and savage account of modern working life. Both surreal and instantly recognizable.”
—Jeff Sparrow, author of No Way But This
“Alberto Prunetti's scatalogical, sociological, phantasmagorical, novel Down and Out in England in Italy might have George Orwell spinning in his grave and chuckling in recognition at the kitchen workers, toilet cleaners, and children of miners and steel workers ... A deep poignancy here too.”
—Anthony Cartwright, author of How I Killed Margaret Thatcher
“So funny and full of swagger ... a joy.”
–Cash Carraway, author of Skint Estate
“In the span of a year and a half (the period of time the author himself spent in the UK) Prunetti condenses three decades of neoliberalism, deindustrialization, attacks on workers’ rights and their wages.”
—Wu Ming 1/Luther Blissett, author of Q
“Down and Out in England and Italy is funny, honest, and literary. Prunetti’s memoir reveals what life is really like for those in low-paid jobs around England while celebrating the bonds that exist between the have-nots. All of this and the history of bolognese too!.”
–Howard Cunnell, author of The Painter’s Friend
“Move over Orwell. Down and Out in England and Italy is (first word to last) the most exciting book on working-class experience, casual labor, and serious love (and cost) of book-learning I've ever read. Funny, fierce. I want to read it aloud in public”
–Tanya Shadrick, author of The Cure for Sleep
“Increasingly imaginative, experimental, and polyphonic.”
–Federico Picerni, Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics
“Bitterly funny, lyrical, and often scatological … a foulmouthed, hallucinatory, and often surreal account of the contemporary landscape of class.”
–John Merrick, Jacobin magazine
- Ultima Frontiera Award
- Biella Literature and Industry Prizes