'Gomorra' author honored in Milan

Roberto Saviano receives honorary degree for mafia book

MILAN -- Nobel Laureate Dario Fo presented Italian "Gomorra" author Roberto Saviano with an honorary degree and heaps of praise Thursday for his courage in daring to expose the mafia.

Saviano's book about the mafia underworld in the southern Italian city of Naples has been a best-seller and made its author a symbol of the fight against the mafia since it came out in 2006. The writer, also a journalist, lives under police protection because of death threats.

"It's important to come together to recognize Saviano's work," said Fo, who won the 1997 Nobel prize for literature.

Fo handed out a Laurea Honoris Causa to Saviano on behalf of Milan's Brera Academy, which said it honored Saviano for his "huge contribution to culture" and praised his "passionate research and rare ability to expose."

Saviano was made an honorary member of the academy and received a diploma.

"Gomorra," which was made into a movie that won the Festival de Cannes' Grand Prize in 2008, is a gritty chronicle of how the Camorra mob dominates life around Naples and makes its money -- seen through the eyes of a local boy who saw his first murder victim at 13.

"As an author, you have to face up to the consequences of what you have written, and you have this sensation of being alone," Saviano told a packed auditorium. "When such an occasion (as this ceremony) arises, you realize you're not alone."

He told reporters there was still a lot to do in fighting the mafia.

"The attention has to be constant, not episodic."

Saviano worked in a textile and building firm controlled by the mob to research his book, which narrates the Camorra's involvement in protection rackets, drug trafficking, smuggling and illegal waste disposal.