An Ode to Sicily's Andrea Camilleri

I have been reading since I was a little girl and have had many favorite authors over time. An author is a magician of words, a story teller, an inspiration…..I rarely delve into author’s lives as the books are somehow more important to me. Well, until now. After watching a documentary- Montalbano and Me based on the life of Andrea Camilleri, I was intrigued to know more about him. This documentary has English subtitles and delves into the life of the creator of Inspector Montalbano.

The Inspector Montalbano series of books are based in Sicily and are much more than just crime novels. They are about  a way of Sicilian life where food prioritizes over everything else. Even solving a case! 

Camiller’s dry humour is beyond amazing and has to be savored slowly as you would savour a cannolo (or two).

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Montalbano and Me

The one hour documentary covers many aspects of the author’s life, right from his Sicilian upbringing to daily habits, family life, reading, current popularity etc…. It is a treat knowing about the enigma who is also a household name in Italy and has touched the lives of many.

Camilleri, who lived in Rome (he passed away on July 17,2019) was originally from Porto Empedocle in Sicily. He spoke about his childhood and mentioned how he was brought up by women. He was closest to his grandmother and tells the viewers how after his marriage, all the ladies including his mother in law lived in the same house.

Camilleri was in a very family oriented world and spoke of intimate details. My favorite moment was when he spoke of his father dying. It welled me up too.

I loved his small studio where the documentary is shot. It is filled with books all around, his favorite authors being James Joyce and Luigi Pirandello and his favorite book being The King of Girgenti which he took 5 years to write!

I was amazed to know about this man who is so well read, so sorted, intelligent yet so down to earth. Camilleri wryly points out how how he thinks writing is not a difficult task and is easier than unloading crates -for instance!

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Montalbano and Me
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Montalbano and Me

I was surprised though at the age of 90, he was not seen without a cigarette in his hand. I am more surprised to find out that the final of the Montalbano series was penned down by him a long time back.

Every year one of the Montalbano books is published from the Sicilian to English. I think I have a long wait to reach the last one. But tell me what would we do without translator Stephen Sartarelli who brought us this fantastic piece of literature from the Sicilian world to the English.

“Without translation, I would be limited to the borders of my own country. The translator is my most important ally. He introduces me to the world.”- Italo Calvino

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19 thoughts on “An Ode to Sicily's Andrea Camilleri

  1. I have only read “The Shape of Water” and I enjoyed it.
    I think you would also like the crime novellas by Leonardo Sciascia, also set in Sicily, a bit older, but with more literary ambition. Beautifully written!

  2. I have found that authors usually have usual lives, but it is what they see makes them unusual. They see what we tend to miss most of the times.

  3. I think so it’s the first time that I read about Andrea Camilleri. So his wife died before his mother and mother in law did? That must have been difficult. He is the same age as my grandfather and this generation has a lot to tell! I find him intriguing as well now. 🙂

    1. No his wife is still alive 😛 They were all living together under one roof. Yes very intriguing especially more when you read his books and realize his snarky humor.

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