The Day of the Owl - Anthony Oliver, George Scialabba, Archibald Colquhoun, Leonardo Sciascia

Mainlanders are decent enough but just don’t understand things.

I came across Sciascia when browsing through the Sicily travel guide last week, which recommended The Day of the Owl (alongside Lampedusa’s The Leopard) as quintessential Sicilian reads.

The Day of the Owl begins with a murder that takes places in broad daylight in a town square. There is an abundance of witnesses but nobody claims to have seen anything or know anything significant that could lead the police to the killer.

And so the investigation, led by a “Northerner”, begins to unravel the complicated net of obligation, honor, and lies that surrounds the killing and tries to describe the organisation of the mafia, at a time when its existence was still being denied and kept out of public view.

Sciascia wrote this in 1961 (8 years before Puzo would publish The Godfather), and although the novella is only 100+ pages in length, it has the depth of a full length novel, and leaves behind an unsettling notion of how big an influence the organisation must have had (or still has?) on the lives of people who are surrounded by the web of silence and obligations.

This was a fascinating read.

Corleone (picture found on the www), the original HQ of the mafia.