Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Day of the Owl by Leonardo Sciascia

The Day of the Owl (1961)

by Leonardo Sciascia

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
673None14,193 (3.75)25

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 25 mentions

English (8)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (11)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
"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 |
A small town in Sicily. In plain view of many witnesses one early morning, a man is gunned down as he was boarding a bus. Nobody claims to have seen it. The bus conductor merely says, "They've killed him." Who are "they"? Surely somebody knows something? But nobody is talking. Captain Bellodi, an antifascist partisan, cultivated, dedicated professional, is new to the place. He comes from the wealthier regions in the northern part of the country, and as an outsider, was thought by the higher authorities, to be good in bringing some movement to disturb the inertia of this backward region. Early in his investigations, two more deaths occur, one after the other. Everyone knew it was no coincidence. People are called in to the precinct, including the brothers and business partners of Salvatore Calasberna, the first deceased. He learns that Calasberna had been assiduously courted by the mob, but never succumbed to their demands, mistakenly believing he needed no protection. The captain amazes the people around him with his courtesy, quick mind, and impartial handling of "interested persons", his clear, direct language, all of which personified a system of justice and authority totally unfamiliar to them, and unknown in this place. But the wall of silence, ignorance, and fear is very strong. Here, nothing is either black or white, and different rules govern. It does not take him long to learn this. But he is willing to persevere.

The owl of the title refers to a Sicilian saying about the owl symbolizing death. Sciascia's brilliant portrayal of the Mafia is unique in that he does not write directly about the Mafia. What we see instead is a delicate unpeeling of layers -- perceptions, suppositions, hesitations -- forming a subtle but nonetheless sharp characterization of what is hidden but strongly felt. There is no blood and gore, but danger is an ever-present element, and Sciascia does not make us forget that. This is a short but intense novel, a rich portrayal of the psychology of fear, a marvelous read. ( )
5 vote deebee1 | Jan 29, 2013 |
Adaltavoce, legge Toni Servillo. E' un racconto bello, ben scritto ... ma è anche uno straordinario tratato sulla mafia. "la linea della palma" che allora si stava spostando verso nord mi ha dato i brividi. Adesso il nord è ricco di palme. ( )
  RobbieB | Jul 9, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Leonardo Sciasciaprimary 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
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
First words
Information from the Spanish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
El autobús estaba a punto de arrancar, retumbaba sordamente entre repentinos carraspeos y sollozos.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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".
Publisher's editors
Publisher series

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

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)

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
4 avail.
26 wanted
2 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.75)
1 3
1.5 2
2 6
2.5 1
3 26
3.5 21
4 56
4.5 1
5 28

NYRB Classics

An edition of this book was published by NYRB Classics.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 89,411,711 books! | Top bar: Always visible