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The Day of the Owl by Leonardo Sciascia
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The Day of the Owl (1961)

by Leonardo Sciascia

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English (10)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Probably the most powerful and realistic piece of fiction about the problem of the Sicilian Mafia ever written. This is a beautifully written and very deep "kind of" crime story that looks at the root of the issue, and not just at the tip of the iceberg.

The owl, such an elusive creature, is not supposed to be seen during the day, after all. ( )
  tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
Probably the most powerful and realistic piece of fiction about the problem of the Sicilian Mafia ever written. This is a beautifully written and very deep "kind of" crime story that looks at the root of the issue, and not just at the tip of the iceberg.

The owl, such an elusive creature, is not supposed to be seen during the day, after all. ( )
  tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
"The Day of the Owl" is a 120 page novella, set in Sicily and written in 1961, eleven years before the movie version of "The Godfather" was released, and 5 years or so before suspects were first mirandized in the US. I point out the two milestones because in the story some characters insist that there is no such thing as a "mafia", and criminals under police interrogation blab like there is no tomorrow. Though the prose is well done especially the dialogue between the police captain and suspects and between two interested parties in Rome, it's all been done before, sometimes much better. And after it is all over and done why does the captain want to return to Sicily? Where are the little hints and clues that there is something special there, so much better than his environs further north in Italy? A classic? I don't think so. I think Raymond Chandler's stuff is classic, ditto for Forsythe's "Day of the Jackal" and Le Carre's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy". They are timeless - "Owl" isn't. ( )
  maneekuhi | Apr 4, 2014 |
Interesting Sicilian crime novel, well written account of the mafia world. ( )
  Miguelnunonave | Aug 6, 2013 |
In a small town in Sicily,Salvatore Colasberna is shot as he is boarding a bus at 6 in the morning. Like the fritter-seller in the square, the bus passengers all melt into the background, so nobody saw anything when the police arrive to investigate. " 'Why,' asked the fritter-seller, astonished and inquisitive, has there been a shooting?' "

Captain Bellodi, a northerner from Parma assigned to Sicily, a man more thoughtful, educated, and sensitive than his Sicilian colleagues, takes charge of the investigation, which soon includes two more murders, and soon concludes that these murders are not only related but also mafia-related. Of course, nobody else believes there is a mafia; surely they must somehow be crimes of passion. As the novella proceeds, the course of the investigation is interrupted by conversations between unnamed people -- His Excellency, the Minister, and so on. The reader sees the web of complicity, even without knowing who these people are or how they are connected.

Captain Bellodi himself is a fascinating character, a police officer who unnerves the people he is questioning by being courteous with them, a man who ponders the nature of the Sicilian character, a dedicated officer of the law who is pleased when the mafia chief he is questioning (or really having a discussion with) calls him a "man" (his highest form of praise) and responds in kind. He is eventually sent back home to Parma to participate in a trial there; while he is away, the case he has carefully developed falls apart. Nonetheless, after first feeling more at home in Parma, Bellodi realizes he loves Sicily and will return "Even if it's the end of me."

This is the third Sciascia crime novel I've read and, as with the others, it is much more than that. It is a portrait of Sicily in the early 1960s, it has deft, insightful characterizations, and Sciascia's wonderfully oblique, understated, yet perceptive writing.
5 vote rebeccanyc | Mar 30, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sciascia, Leonardoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baglione, AnnaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colquhoun, ArchibaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marchese, RiccardoContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oliver, ArthurTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennings, LindaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scialabba, GeorgeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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... come la civetta quando/ di giorno compare. SHAKESPEARE, Enrico VI
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L'autobus stava per partire, rombava sordo con improvvisi raschi e singulti.
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"Io" proseguì poi don Mariano "ho una certa pratica del mondo; e quella che diciamo l'umanità, e ci riempiamo la bocca a dire umanità, bella parola piena di vento, la divido in cinque categorie: gli uomini, i mezz'uomini, gli ominicchi, i (con rispetto parlando) pigliainculo e i quaquaraquà... Pochissimi gli uomini; i mezz'uomini pochi, ché mi contenterei l'umanità si fermasse ai mezz'uomini... E invece no, scende ancora più giù, agli ominicchi: che sono i bambini che si credono grandi, scimmie che fanno le stesse mosse dei grandi... E ancora più giù: i pigliainculo, che vanno diventando un esercito... E infine i quaquaraquà: che dovrebbero vivere come le anatre nelle pozzanghere, ché la loro vita non ha più senso e più espressione di quella delle anatre... Lei, anche se mi inchioderà su queste carte come un Cristo, lei è un uomo...".
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Disambiguation notice
"The Day of the Owl" was published in an English translation by Archibald Colquhoun and Arthur Oliver in 1964 (NY: Alfred A. Knopf). It appeared under the title "Mafia Vendetta".
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159017061X, Paperback)

A man is shot dead as he runs to catch the bus in the piazza of a small Sicilian town. Captain Bellodi, the detective on the case, is new to his job and determined to prove himself. Bellodi suspects the Mafia, and his suspicions grow when he finds himself up against an apparently unbreachable wall of silence. A surprise turn puts him on the track of a series of nasty crimes. But all the while Bellodi's investigation is being carefully monitored by a host of observers, near and far. They share a single concern: to keep the truth from coming out.

This short, beautifully paced novel is a mesmerizing description of the Mafia at work.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:34 -0400)

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