Sicilian Uncles by Leonardo Sciascia

I’m slowly reading all of Sciascia’s work insofar as it’s available in English.

Like John Berger’s fiction, there’s an urge to put Sciascia’s into sociology or some such category. Absolutely not because it’s a historical fiction, padded out with stuff about How Things Used To Be Done, but because they are political. This could be bad, but it isn’t. Although Berger and Sciascia have hearts and consciences, above all they are not proselytisers but observers. And if your observations are acute enough, there is no need to state the obvious.

In this set of four stories, described on the cover as ‘novellas’ but they are not that to me, the stages for the first three are small town Sicily, Sciascia’s usual backdrop.

But the fourth begins in that way, before diverging, with a poor labourer who decides that joining the army to go to fight with the Fascists in Spain is the way out of his terrible predicament. Perhaps predicament isn’t really the right word when you are simply talking of the normal, dreadful life of such exploited people. Life as a miner was awful enough that the army was a step towards something better – or so he hoped, like so many who were tricked or forced by economic circumstance into doing this. Only to discover, when he got to Spain that the good guys were the ones on the other side. He was fighting against peasants and labourers, he was warring against his own. This is a truly great story – Antimony.

Yes, you should read this. I can’t believe not one of my GR friends has.

 

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