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Midnight In Sicily (Panther) Paperback – 6 May 1999
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"One of the greatest charms of Robb's book is his evident delight in southern Italy, particularly its food, which is recorded with such intensity of memory that one can almost taste it... As an introduction to post-war Italy, to the country as well as its politics, it can have few equals" (Caroline Moorehead Times Literary Supplement)
"Robb writes brilliantly about the cycle of violence in southern Italy. This unclassifiable book melds politics, the mafia, travel, autobiography and serious cooking" (Andrew Taylor Independent)
"I love this book. It left me in a sweet and sour mood of exultation, grief, despair and hope which lasted for many days" (Peter Goldsworthy Australian Review of Books)
"One of the finest books on the Italian south. [Peter Robb's] analysis is as riveting in its commentary on modern Sicilian life as The Leopard was to an earlier generation" (The Economist)
"Peter Robb manages to celebrate the literature, art, manners and food of an entire region. His book is a masterpiece of elegant, sceptical enquiry and a pleasure to read" (Ian Thomson Evening Standard)
Peter Robb's journey into Sicily is a wondrously diverse account of its art, culture, crime and corruption written in prose that feels as infected and beautiful as the island itself.See all Product description
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The structure of the book takes a theme, occasionally historical (as in the liberation of Sicily in 1943, in which the USA hands control to the Mafia in return for an easy ride for their troops in liberating the island), more often around the personal experience of the author (meetings with restaurant owners, life in Naples in a golden age, an interview with Marta Marzotto, or with the Mayor of Palermo), sometimes focussing on an important artistic or historical figure such as the Sicilian artist and communist Guttuso who figures quite a bit here but also has a chapter to himself starting with his funeral), or the novelist Leonardo Scascia (which starts with Peter Robb visiting the very unfriendly-to-visitors town of his birth and life as a schoolteacher).
Always, underlying everything is political corruption and the Mafia - deaths and more deaths of good people and the never-ending and so far not completed struggle for law and order. The book conveys real anger and passion; and afterword dated 2007 to the main text, which dates from 1995/1996, tells us that everything changes and everything stays the same. I had no doubt this was true...Andreotti is found guilty of Mafia association, but only up to 1980, ie for a period of time that it is outside the statute of limitations and so he cannot be punished for what he has done....This typifies the way, at least in this book, that Italy works...
It gives you an insight into the problems faced by Italy today a north that ignores the south though fear if it was powerful it may break away again (at the time of unification Sicily and Naples were two of the most powerful states) and a south that sees the north as another invader exploiting them and using the mafia as a weapon of oppression which left men like Totto Riina feeling invincible and but for the brave few that forced the government to act by their sacrifice he almost was.
As one Italian said we've made Italy now we need to make Italians.
A great book that shows this struggle in an island where Italian is rarely spoken.
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