Mazilli's Shoes


119 pages
ISBN 1-55071-097-4
DDC C812'.54





Reviewed by David E. Kemp

David E. Kemp, a former drama professor at Queen’s University, is the
author of The Pleasures and Treasures of the United Kingdom.


When Giovanni Mazilli suddenly loses his job in a shoe factory, together
with all his colleagues, he takes the dismissal as a sign that he should
return to Italy, the country of his birth. Giovanni, you see, has not
been back in 23 years, not even for his mother’s funeral. On an
exploratory trip to his birthplace, he impetuously buys a shoe shop;
soon his wife and grown children are living the life of Italian
provincials. But the petty bureaucracy of Italy is frustrating to
Giovanni and his family, and a return to Canada soon becomes
imminent—although not in the way we might expect.

Mazilli’s Shoes shows a deep understanding of the immigrant
experience, which left me wanting to know more about its author. The
idea of wanting to return to one’s roots and discovering that they are
not there anymore, or that things have changed beyond recognition,
transcends the Italian setting of this screenplay and achieves a
universality. Regrettably, Guernica Editions’ books are beautifully
crafted but low on information about the author. Here, the publishers
tell us only that Madott is the author of Bottled Roses (1985) and a
Toronto lawyer.

Madott writes persuasively in both languages, and her cinematic
instructions, which pepper the realistic and fast-paced dialogue, show
the visualization of the director as well as the ear of the writer. She
demonstrates a good understanding of the frustrations of living in
modern-day Italy, along with a deep insight into what makes Toronto’s
Italian community tick.


Madott, Darlene., “Mazilli's Shoes,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024,