Godfather is a 1969 crime novel written by Mario Puzo after he had heard anecdotes about Mafia organizations during his time in pulp journalism. Puzo was born in a poor family of Neapolitan immigrants living in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. Many of his books draw heavily on this heritage. Once, in an interview with the veteran American television and radio host Larry King, he had said that the principal motivation behind writing ‘The Godfather’ was to make money. He had already, after all, written two books that had received great reviews. Yet, these had not amounted to much. As a government clerk with five kids, he was looking to write something that would appeal to the masses. With the number one slot for months on The New York Times Best Seller List, Mario Puzo had found his target audience. This book was later developed into the film ‘The Godfather’ directed by Francis Ford Coppola, receiving 11 Academy Award nominations, winning three, including an Oscar for Puzo for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The plot revolves around the Corelone family, which is the most powerful among the five mafia families of New York and may well be of the entire US. The family is headed by Vito Corelone, a powerful man with deep political connections and camaraderie based on respect and favors. Lovingly known by his admirers and friends as ‘Godfather’, Vito Corelone makes his own rules of justice for his friends and favor seekers. In return, the Godfather asks for nothing but friendship and allegiance. The Don has four children; Sonnie Corelone who is involved in the family business and serves as his father’s right hand, Freddie Corelone who, according to the Don, is weak and stupid, Michael Corelone who initially was out of the family business but ultimately takes up the position of Don after the death of Vito Corelone and Connie Corelone who is getting married at the starting of this novel. Vito Corelone’s wife is also mentioned in the novel. Though she doesn’t play a major role in the proceedings of the story, she is portrayed as an ideal wife and mother. In this book, the dais is further shared by interesting characters like Tom Hagen, the Don’s adopted son who later becomes the Corelones’ consigliore, Johnny Fontane the famous singer and movie star whose Godfather is Vito Corelone, Peter Clemenza and Salvatore Tessio who are both ‘Caporegimes’ or ‘Captains’. Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo, Emilio Barzini and Philip Tattaglia constitute the ‘bad guys’ in this novel.