Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Book Review - The wine-dark sea by Leonardo Sciascia

The wine-dark sea by Leonardo Sciascia, translated by Avril Bardoni, Introduction by Albert Mobilio

New York: New York Review Books, 2000       ISBN 0940322536

In an author's note at the end of this collection, Sciascia writes "These short stories were written - together with a few more that seemed to me not worth collecting and reissuing - between 1959 and 1972." He goes on to write that this collection came about owing to requests from his readers, who wished to have the stories collected into one volume.

And what a great little volume it is - stories that give us the flavour of Sicily in bite-sized pieces. Some of these stories are a moment in time extrapolated to show the nature of a place: Philology for example, where a discussion about the origins of a word (mafia) tell us in ten pages what the Mafia is, how it works, and how it continues to thrive in Sicily. Some stories speak of the clash of cultures, such as The test where a Swiss businessman cannot grasp what he is being "told" by his Sicilian counterparts, because the Sicilian way is to talk in metaphor around an issue, rather than with the Teutonic directness of their Northern neighbours. Many stories are about love, and how families can come to regret thwarting true love when it is deemed not to their benefit, even when the payoff can be years later, as in The ransom.

All of the stories are human stories, stories of love, of revenge, of stupidity and avarice. The are all written in the spare, ironic style that Sciascia is known for, which leaves the reader thinking.

Well worth dipping into.

Cheers for now, from
A View Over the Bell

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