The black sheep

“Everyone wanted to die this year because from next year nothing new will be seen.

The main character of the tale is Nicola, who lived in a mental hospital for thirty-five years. Son of a difficult family situation, officially never born, because his father never decided to register him at the registry office (unlike his brothers), and a mother who was also locked up in a mental hospital, from an early age he will be forced to come into contact with the world of mental illnesses, which is often avoided even by adults.

For the childish naivety of the mentally ill, the hospital is a special condominium, and the sick are saints, right down to the doctor seen as Jesus Christ. This vision is accompanied by the story of patients treated with electroshock, and the dehumanization of those locked up in psychiatric hospitals because they are sick, because they are too sensitive, because they have nowhere else to go. In this regard, we really liked the passage in which the sick are described as minds in which the light is never turned off, or as minds that live perpetually in the dark. Here perhaps the indirect question that accompanies the reader, who is the “normal” and who is the “crazy”? How thick is that line between the two categories? The passage of time has taught us that what is considered abnormal in a specific historical moment becomes normal in another historical period.

It’s not a difficult read, even the size of the book isn’t notable, but it’s a text that exudes intelligence and wit. We recommend reading it twice in a row, to appreciate the ideas behind the words, the simplicity of the writing hides the complexity of lofty thoughts, and the tale of atrocities that one wants to deny, or at least not see. A text of absolute value that we really liked, perhaps more than we could have imagined at the time of purchase. Finally, a final note of colour: for us who have attended various shows by the author in the past, during the reading we seemed to be accompanied by his narrating voice from the top of a stage behind a lectern.


Ascanio Celestini, La pecora nera, Einaudi, Torino, 2006


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