The Unsettled Dust

SICILIANS AND GREEKS To celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia, the Italian newspaper  La Repubblica is reissuing his books, one a week for twenty weeks. In theory, I have read most of them: when I first lived in Italy, I used to buy them at the newsstand in Rome’s Termini station just before boarding a train to Siena or Florence, back when trips that now take an hour and a half took a good four hours and the conductors would announce our arrival in person, out loud, their Tuscan accent pleasantly interrupting Sciascia’s Sicilian reveries. At that stage of my life, I had never been to Sicily. My Italian was little better than restaurant Italian. It didn’t matter: Sciascia’s ability to evoke an atmosphere and a psychology penetrated all the clouds of unknowing, so that the ugly hotel and corrupt politicians of Todo Modo

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