The Gomorrah author on his new book about Italy’s teenage mafia leaders, why he risks his life for his writing, and the UK’s shameful corruption

In 2006, Italian author and journalist Roberto Saviano published Gomorrah, an exposé of the organised crime network Camorra; since then he has had to live under police protection. The book was adapted for the big screen in 2008 and for TV in 2014. Other works include ZeroZeroZero, an investigation into the cocaine trade; his new novel, The Piranhas, a story about children’s gangs in Naples, is published on 20 September by Picador.

How did you get the idea for this novel?
It was such a powerful news story: children who suddenly became mafia leaders. Mafias have always employed muschilli – little mosquitoes – in minor roles. But for a few years, in Naples, kids aged between 10 and 19 were in charge: they decided the drug deals, the money laundering, the executions… I wanted to find out more.

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