Following a recommendation for this author I was initially disappointed to find only one book in English translation in my library system but went ahead and ordered it through our interlibrary lending. When it arrived I quickly read the Forward by Paul Bailey (no idea who he is) and the Introduction by the translator Howard Curtis whilst eating lunch and was immediately hooked. So much so that it displaced my current reading and occupied my afternoon. Both the forward and the Introduction set the scene by telling me about the author and about his writings and his style.
Sciascia was Sicilian by birth and a prolific writer, novelist, dramatist and political commentaries. He stood for and was elected to local, national and European political office. He is described as a regional writer, which may explain why so little of his work is available in translation. But if you are wanting descriptions of Sicilian landscape, of hot Mediterranean days and nights, his is not he writing for you. Instead for Sciascia, Sicily provides a backdrop to his study of injustice/justice, corruption and power which pervade Sicilian society and its politics.
A Simple Story was his last book published on the day he died. It is short, only 40 pages, but from the go his sarcasm, humour and scathing political sideswipes shine through. I did not find the plot twists expected and absolutely loved the ending – but I won’t say more about that in order to entice you to read this little gem.
Also in the copy I got is a second, longer book, Candido, which I have still to read. It was written during his political period and is a parody on Voltaire’s Candide.
ashrambling’s verdict: 4* little gem.