The famous bi-sexual libertine who would be more at home on Tinder than at a Roman Cathedral, gallivants through the streets like brush strokes to become a Baroque 16th century icon.
The year is 1604 and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is a superstar, his blockbuster paintings packing the pews of Rome. Caravaggio should be reveling in prosperity, but the artistic trailblazer and nefarious street-brawler is his own worst enemy. While the genius paints masterpieces, the ruffian in him can’t stay out of jail. Caravaggio is a man at existential odds with himself until falling in love with Lena Antognetti, the prostitute modeling his newest Virgin pictures. Caravaggio paints Lena into a life of wealth and celebrity, but the power couple’s provocative fame earns them a horde of resentful and jealous enemies.
I, Caravaggio dramatizes the superstar’s psychological unraveling under the sexual and political pressures of the Catholic Reformation.
Eugenio Volpe is the author of the forthcoming novel I, Caravaggio (Clash Books 2023). His essay “Jesus Kicks His Oedipus Complex” was listed as notable in Best American Essays 2021. His stories have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Salamander, New York Tyrant, VICE, Post Road, The Nervous Breakdown, BULL, and dozens of other journals. He is a former winner of the PEN Discovery Award for Fiction. He has also been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. He has appeared in the Boston Globe for his writing. He is a professor of rhetoric at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
“I, Caravaggio is a trip, is an erudite hoot, is art and lust and immortality and loss: this book is a fucking party.”
—Kathe Koja, author of The Cipher and Dark Factory
“Volpe's outrageously inventive novel recreates Caravaggio and early modern Rome with a post-modern spin, all the while asking shockwave questions: Who is art really for, the masses or ourselves? Are we our own Gods? Whiplash smart, this novel did what the best books do: it changed the way I see not just Caravaggio, but the world.”
—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and With or Without You
“What a talent Eugenio Volpe is! One of the freshest new voices around, I always look forward to reading his work!”
—Ann Hood, best-selling author of The Obituary Writer and The Red Thread
“I, Caravaggio is a breathtaking portrait of the artist with all the dirt, swashbuckling, violence and reverence Caravaggio himself would crave. It pulsates with wit and pathos while shedding a raking light on the themes of the corrupting power of patronage, the myth of genius and the redemptive power of art.”
—Lorraine Tosiello, author of The Bee and the Fly the Improbable Correspondence of Louisa May Alcott and Emily Dickinson and Only Gossip Prospers