Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story

Genre: Historical Fiction

For Fans Of

Laurie Fabiano, Ariana Trigiani, Megan Chance, Mario Puzo, Elena Ferrante

Book Summary

What turns the gentle mean and the mean brutal? The thirst for wealth? The demand for respect? Vying for a woman? Birds of Passage recalls the Italian immigration experience at the turn of the twentieth-century when New York’s streets were paved with violence and disappointment.
Leonardo Robustelli leaves Naples in 1905 to seek his fortune. Carlo Mazzi committed murder and escaped. Azzura Medina is an American of Italian parents. She’s ambitious but strictly controlled by her mother. Leonardo and Carlo vie for her affection.
Azzura, Leonardo, and Carlo confront con men, Tammany Hall politicians, the longshoreman’s union, Camorra clans, Black Hand extortion, and the Tombs prison.


“This riveting debut novel by Giordano charts the passage of two young Italian men to early twentieth century New York, as they strive to make their mark in the New World…. Part thriller, part love story, part coming-of-age narrative, this book’s appeal reaches successfully beyond the often restrictive confines of its genre. A refreshing rethink of the archetypal mafia novel.”
— Kirkus

“If you had the means to change your destiny, would you do it? …What begins as a simple tale of immigrant hopes and dreams quickly evolves into a story of destiny: how we change it, how we defy it, and how we accept it.”
— Summerset Review

"In Birds of Passage, the plot moves fast, like the wind tunnels of New York's skyscrapers. Giordano's prose is vigorous and efficient; uncanny in the way it conveys the complexities of scenes and characters with just a few paragraphs. A phenomenal book that is both inspiring and compelling and a joy to read."
- Truby Chiaviello, Editor, PRIMO Magazine

“With Birds of Passage, Joe Giordano delivers a rollicking, wholly entertaining take on the Italian immigrant story. His rich cast of characters arrives seeking the usual: Money, honor, love, respect, a decent shot at the pursuit of happiness. But things get complicated fast as they plunge into the rough-and-tumble world of rackets, scams, and politics of early 20th-century New York City. Giordano serves up a thick, satisfying slice of the entire era in all its raw and brutal glory.”
- Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a major motion picture directed by Ang Lee

About the Author

Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. He and his wife, Jane, have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas with their shih tzu, Sophia.

Joe's stories have appeared in more than one-hundred magazines including The Monarch Review, The Saturday Evening Post, decomP, The Summerset Review, and Shenandoah. His novel, Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story, was published by Harvard Square Editions October 2015. His second novel, Appointment with ISIL, an Anthony Provati Thriller will be published by HSE on June 15, 2017. Read the first chapters and sign up for his blog at

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