THE CONCLAVE, the gathering of the worldÂs Roman Catholic cardinals at the Vatican in complete isolation and secrecy after the death of the pope in order to elect a new spiritual leader, is the setting for Roberto PazziÂs latest novel, a magical fable rooted in the realities of today. A week, a month, four months go by and still the cardinals cannot come to a decision. The world outside grows impatient, but time inside the Vatican has another quality: oneiric, suspended, symbolic. The cardinals conspire in secret meetings to advance their absurd political struggles with Kafkaesque determination. Who shall rise to don the vestments and wield the authority of the Holy See? A political activist from Latin America? A black cardinal from sub-Saharan Africa, the ChurchÂs leading growth market? A prominent Palestinian whose election would shake up geopolitics? Or has the time come for an Italian to once again wear the popeÂs miter? A series of fantastic events intrudes to upset the conclavistsÂ opulent comfort, steal their dignity, and undermine their faith. The end result is a work of fabulist fiction of the highest order.
Â. . . clearly acknowledges Italo Calvino and others who have made fantasy a vital force in contemporary Italian fiction. None-theless Pazzi is his own writer and a marvelous one, too.Â-- The Chicago Tribune
ÂA dazzling reinvention of history that has all the narrative delights of a fine novella, combined with the hard luminous glow of epic verse.Â-- The New York Timesshow more