Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Antonio Scurati’s “The Survivor” caught my attention on bookshelves shortly before the end of the school year. It was a risky choice for a parting gift to my 5th grade daughter's teacher, especially considering how I hadn’t got round to reading it myself. But my instinct just said, “He should read this book!”

The premise charmed me. A teen (Vitaliano Castia) kills off all his teachers during final exams except for one - his history/philosophy teacher (Andrea Mareskalki). Rather than feel fear, the teacher feels guilt-ridden and goes on a quest to solve the riddle concerning his own survival from the massacre. In Greek, it is titled “Teacher and Student”, as the teacher becomes the student of the rebellious and charming young killer that he, his murdered colleagues and the inadequate education system has cultivated. Ultimately, the teachers and students are just different sides of the same enigma...

Society’s shallow reaction to the small-town shooting scandal is exquisitely portrayed. I loved the stereotypical depictions of the police, press, psychologists, priests, politicians…Then there was the underlying symbolism alluding to the Crucifixion of Christ. 

At first I felt somewhat awkward that I had given my daughter’s teacher a book with so much focus on an educator's hard-ons, but even these are relevant to the excitement of youth’s potential should it erupt at any given moment. Hopefully the book will make him feel as uncomfortable as it made me feel and humble him. All teachers should feel humility upon encountering their young restless wards. And all parents, too.

Born in 1969, Scurati and I belong to the same generation. Conceived just a breath after the brilliant French students' revolt of May 1968, we are a “yuppie” generation who turned out to be self-serving flops of nothingness. The book made me look to my daughters and hope that someday they will destroy what we, their parents and teachers, should have dismantled. Hopefully, they will rebel against us, their superiors, who were swallowed by the same system we should have crushed.

I wonder if my daughter's teacher - also born in 1969 - will think think as I do when reading the book. Or will he just question why I don't buy traditional teachers' gifts like other mothers - you know, the usual sun creams, doilies and aftershave...

PS If your comment has not appeared on the previous post it is because I accidently pressed the REJECT rather than PUBLISH button. Sorry.

1 comment:

The Man Your Husband Is Worried About said...

You gave your daughter's teacher a book about killing teachers? Man, that's pretty ballsy. Did you write this post from a jail cell?