Book Review : Dublin Calling

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Intro : Dublin Calling is a nonfiction novel by Robert Sanasi. I received an eBook edition of the book from the publicist for a review.

Amazon Synopsis :

A Southern Italian man who finds himself hungry for life decides to emigrate to the crazy Northern European city of Dublin. From that moment onwards, no matter where else he chooses to travel, Dublin is forever calling him! Dublin Calling is a fascinating and honest insight into the life of a 2.0 migrant. 

Review : Our protagonist is Giacomo/Jack, a guy from the south of Italy. In the late 2000s, he moves to Dublin, the capital of Ireland, for work. For some reason, his name isn’t Robert. Shy Giacomo feels homesick at various phases of his stay there. Initially, he found it hard to adapt to the country, with the weather, the food, the girls, all different. In a theme that he harps on throughout the book, the author tells us that the Irish weather is cold, cloudy and generally, not sunny and how — being from a place with an opposite type of weather — he keeps longing for home, the feeling of belonging and being kissed by the sun.

I always ended up in noncathartic, mystic oblivions, reminding myself of my completely happy childhood spent in the green fields and red ground of Salento during the sweet April afternoons. I believed these and other thoughts could help me to penetrate the kernel of existence and allow me to see the other side of things, their substance and their authentic meaning. I believed so. I imagined so. 

There are many, I repeat, many sexual liaisons in the book. Nothing graphic though. The language is full of funny innuendos. The sad part for Giacomo is that despite taking so many women to bed, he is unable to connect with almost anyone on a level below the surface. So while he keeps falling in love and keeps writing poems for the girls he dates (smart use of writing skills!), he feels a void inside (more on that in a while). And oh, did I say he searches for masterpieces in the woman form? Sample this :

We kissed in the corridor – I was already overexcited – and I touched her big breasts that were so wonderfully similar to the ones you could see in Botticelli’s paintings. 

The book is funny too. The author doesn’t shy away from making self-deprecatory jokes. Neither does he shy from talking (read flirting) with girls in a manner that makes one laugh. Sometimes, there are lines that feel completely weird, and yet you can’t stop a chuckle. See this one, after one of the break-ups :

I wrote to her that, despite everything, she had to give me back my shirt! 

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The author. Image credit.

The major themes of the book are love, family, migrant’s loneliness, homesickness, sex and friendship, though not in any particular order. Giacomo stays in Dublin for some time, gets bored, returns home to Salento and vows not to go back to Dublin. Then does so anyway. Despite his growing familiarity with the country and its people, there are times when he is so confused and lonely that even he can’t assess why he feels so bad. These phases of the book are powerful, as are the bits where he connects with his faith and the Lord. Being a migrant myself, I could acutely connect with these passages, although quite admittedly, our experiences differ a lot too.

Another good thing about the book is that the author’s unmissable passion for love and life shines through the pages. His positivity and belief in the inherent goodness that lies in each one of us is infectious.

And then there is the sex! I’ll admit — I found the (numerous) passages detailing lust and attraction interesting to read. Credit to the author for being brutally frank, as he is with all other topics. He feels what he calls “Catholic guilt” for these liaisons, but he can’t stop himself from doing it. In his own words :

That was the paroxysmal point of my sexual Irish education: a former shy man who became a sex or, better, a woman-addict.

Some things do get lost in translation. When a person laughs, the expression used is “ah, ah,” not “ha, ha.” Then there are expressions that look very much what you would expect from an English-speaking Italian man. Sometimes they are a bit crass, but that’s what they are.

But ultimately, the book is about Giacomo’s journey in life to find himself. Through the heartbreaks and the travels, he discovers his true nature and comes to realise that not everything in life is predetermined or clear from the outset.

Directions do not come with birth. It seems that you actually have to find it by yourself. 

The problem with the book is that after a while, a lot of things feel like songs being played on a loop. He keeps meeting and bedding French girls, misses home, keeps going back home for Christmas and keeps lamenting the dull, discouraging northern weather. Some time after around 50-60% of the book’s total length, things start getting a bit tedious. However, that is a small issue in a book that has been written straight from the heart and is every bit as enjoyable as one would expect it to be.

Verdict : Dublin Calling is a light, enjoyable book that deals with an emigrant’s journeys and travails while also harping on spirituality and the meaning of life. While not quite a literary masterpiece, it is nevertheless an excellent read.

Genre : Nonfiction, Novel, Travel, Memoir.

Reading Guide : You might find the book a little off-putting if you don’t like euphemistic descriptions of sexual intercourse in a book.

Rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Have you read Dublin Calling? Did you like it? Do you agree with this review? Kindly tell me in the comments section.

Thanks for reading.

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