Novel by Alan Alfredo Geday


Extract (Part I)

In the late afternoon along the broad sidewalks of Bensonhurst, the sweet-tart smell of marinara sauce filled the air. The Italian delis never ran out of it, and their store windows looked like a Warhol tableau, piled high with neat, immutable rows of canned tomatoes. The sauce was Bensonhurst’s bestseller, just good tomatoes with a little olive oil and a few garlic cloves, but the neighborhood didn’t just belong to the Sicilians or even the Neapolitans anymore; since the war ended, immigrants had been coming in from all over the Boot. The tri-color flag hung from nearly every building, drawing the borders of Brooklyn’s Little Italy. The neighborhood was awash with color, from giant billboards to posters for the latest blockbuster motion pictures. The record shops were always busy, and on the sidewalks market stalls were scattered in every direction. Café terraces overflowed with men busy at games of scopa, while the store windows were filled with toys and chewing-gum dispensers to pull in kids on their way home from school. Cars hummed along the roads, with yellow taxis honking and motorcycles popping, and the subway sailing high and loud above the packed streets. It was rush hour, and the residents of Bensonhurst were scurrying around one another in search of their groceries; a bunch of basil leaves here, a handful of dried eggplant there. It was almost dinner time, but lots of folks still sat chatting on the front steps of their brownstones. Others were calling into the Jewish delis for a chocolate krantz cake, a stuffed donut or a braided challah. Even in Italian New York, little pockets of the Jewish diaspora had always thrived.