cover image The Four Corners of Palermo

The Four Corners of Palermo

Giuseppe Di Piazza, trans. from the Italian by Antony Shugaar. Other Press, $14.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-59051-665-2

Four vignettes paint a rich picture of Mafia-ridden Sicily in this slim debut novel. In the first story, a 23-year-old reporter working the organized crime beat in 1980s Palermo finds himself covering the Spataros, a “dynasty that was to Cosa Nostra what the Tudors were to the English throne.” Family scion Marinello has opted out of the business, sparking a feud as dramatic as anything in Shakespeare. From there, Di Piazza follows three other characters: a French visitor, a father accused of kidnapping his children, and a woman whose father is found beheaded in a town square. The novel is at its most memorable, however, when chronicling the young reporter’s experiences. “We were living the carefree lives of people in their twenties,” he writes, “immersed in a city that was methodically going about committing suicide.” Indeed, what emerges is both amusing and tragic: a cadre of young people who spend their days documenting grisly mafia murders, and their nights in pursuit of alcohol and sex. The insights offered here were undoubtedly come by firsthand, since Di Piazza himself is a veteran journalist in Sicily. His first foray into fiction is compelling and raw. (Oct.)