cover image The Brewer of Preston

The Brewer of Preston

Andrea Camilleri, trans. from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli. Penguin, $15 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-14-312149-7

Fans of Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series (Angelica’s Smile, etc.) will relish this amusing, playful tale set in Vigàta, Sicily, in 1874. The citizens of Vigàta are smarting under the rule of the prefect of Montelusa, Eugenio Bortuzzi, who has decided that the town’s impressive new theater will be inaugurated by a performance of The Brewer of Preston. The opera was written by a mediocre composer, Luigi Ricci, who once presented a rehashing of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro as his own work. Grumbles from the Vigàta Civic Club reach the ear of Bortuzzi via the tongue of Emanuele “Uncle Memè” Ferraguto, a self-serving toady. Fire strikes the theater mere hours after its inauspicious opening. A series of absurd incidents follow in almost random fashion, some comic, some tragic. Camilleri cleverly ends the novel with chapter one, which provides the perfect summation that proves history is written (or rewritten) by the survivors. Agent: Donatella Barbieri, Agenzia Letteraria Internazionale (Italy). (Dec.)