The Hated Ones
Publication Date: October 12, 2021
In this interconnected series of short stories, Mike Fiorito offers a raw, vivid bildungsroman set during the 1970s in Ravenswood Houses project in Queens. Vinny, a third generation Sicilian lives with his parents—a mother who drinks and father who gambles—and older brother, Virgil.
Although his family is poor, crime rampant, and drugs easy to come by, Vinny survives through cunning, a group of loyal friends, and the comfort of music. Vinny’s voice is so authentic, I had to keep reminding myself that the book was a novel, not a memoir.
The book’s title comes from the name of a gang, The Hated Ones: “To be a member you had to be resigned to your death. Death could come in any way. Getting stabbed in the face, shot, or pummeled by a brick to the head.” So resigned, the threat of danger failed to deter Vinny, his friends, or others in the neighborhood from making poor decisions, cruelly hurting loved ones and behaving short-sightedly. Even so, I found it impossible not to root for Vinny, and ended the book hopeful for him.
This is an under-appreciated gem, recommended for those who enjoy coming of age and NYC stories.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Mike Fiorito for including me on the tour and for a gifted copy of the book.