The Ballad of Worthless Souls
Inspired by true events about an entire community in Puglia that converted to Judaism just as the racial laws were being promulgated, this compelling novel follows drama of a single family.
It is 1938 and thirteen-year-old Sofia lives on a farm in the Gargano together with her large and extended family. Her father, with ‘words sharp as teeth’, has told her that she is slow, especially with numbers. So, Sofia wanders between the farm and the wheat field, feeling alone, different, a mistake. The only person she can talk to is her friend Pasquale, from San Nicandro, and the people there have joined a strange and mysterious sect. They don’t eat salami, they strike on Saturdays, and to become real men they must cut themselves down there. Their leader, Donato Manduzio, is a shady individual who apparently sees things that others do not. It is rumored in the village that he has written a letter seeking help and protection from the one individual he should have run from: the Duce.
Sofia’s father has warned her not to talk to them, it’s dangerous, and they could infect her. But her loneliness and curiosity are stronger than his diffidence and her story becomes entwined with their tragic destiny.