Sacco and Vanzetti in fiction

Four recent novels

The Anarchists Wife by Margo Laurie
In 1920, anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were accused of a robbery and double murder at a factory in Massachusetts. The case became one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice of the twentieth century.

The Anarchist's Wife is a poignant historical fiction novella which reimagines this American tragedy from the perspective of Rosa Sacco. Her husband was likely innocent of the crime he was accused of, but his possible involvement in anarchist violence was a far murkier question. The story is framed as a memoir for Rosa's daughter, in which she attempts to shape this difficult past into one which can be lived with.

Our Good Name by Catherine Marenghi
Our Good Name is the story of Stefano and his young bride Celestina, both Italian immigrants who leave behind the back-breaking field labor in their beloved Northern Italy to find their place in a strange new country. Sailing in steerage class on the improbably named ship Champagne, Stefano gets a hint of the reality that lies ahead in the United States.

What Stefano and Celestina find in America was not the land of promise and opportunity they dreamed about, at least not for Italian immigrants in the early 1900s. From the squalor of the transatlantic voyage to the shock of their first encounter with Ellis Island to the lowest paid and most demeaning jobs they were forced to take, this is a tale of struggles, hardships, and heart-wrenching losses, including the execution of their friend Nicola Sacco.

America—and their adopted town of Milford, Massachusetts—asked for many sacrifices. And yet, the stories of Stefano and Celestina and their sprawling family, are filled with love, humor, and the determination to preserve their good name while making a life they could hand down to their children and grandchildren.

Inspired by true events, Our Good Name is a historical novel that surprises with a fresh and honest perspective about the hard realities of immigrant life in the United States and the courage required to make a home of one’s own in the “New World”.

The Brini Boy by Jane McCulloch
Trando is only thirteen years old, but he knows he is the one person who can save his best friend from the electric chair… It is 1919 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Trando Brini, a promising violinist and the child of Italian immigrants, lives quietly with his parents and their lodger Bart Vanzetti. This is not a good time for Italian-Americans. Assassinations and bombings committed by a handful of Italian Anarchists on US soil has resulted in a tense climate of suspicion and paranoia. When known Anarchists Bart and Nick Sacco are arrested for their alleged roles in a fatal holdup, Trando knows for certain his friend is innocent. Thus begins seven years of trials and appeals, during which Trando, his community, and a growing number of political activists and intellectuals challenge a biased American Justice System. It is a struggle between David and Goliath, in which the ‘Brini Boy’ must risk everything – his musical career, his first love and the life of his dearest friend. In this true story of courage, bravery and determination, we can more fully understand the America of the present by revisiting its turbulent past.

Suosso’s Lane by Robert Knox
Historical fiction, Suosso’s Lane dials back the clock to revisit the flawed trial of Italian immigrant Bartolomeo Vanzetti, a believer in "the beautiful idea" of a classless society in which all would work for the common good.

A sober-minded laborer, Vanzetti suffers from the exploitation of industrial workers in the early decades of the twentieth century. Outraged by the greed and injustice that mar his idealistic hopes for the "New World," he joins other anarchists in promoting strikes and preaching revolution.

In 1920, Vanzetti and his comrade Nicola Sacco are nabbed by police looking for radicals and subsequently convicted of committing a spectacular daylight robbery and murder. After seven years in prison, even as millions of workers and intellectuals around the world rally to their cause, the two men are executed.
Seventy years later, when a young history teacher moves into Vanzetti’s old house in Plymouth, Massachusetts, he learns of a letter that might prove Vanzetti’s innocence. But his search for the truth faces obstacles posed by a local conspiracy theorist, the daughter of Vanzetti’s lover, a shady developer, and a fatal fire set during his search of an old Plymouth factory.