I have been reading since I was a little girl and have had many favorite authors over time. An author to me is only a magician of words, a story teller, an inspiration.. I am a through and through book nerd and I rarely delve into the author’s personal lives.
Well, until now.
I recently saw Montalbano and Me: a documentary on Andrea Camilleri– the creator of the famous series of books based on Inspector Montalbano.
The one hour documentary covers many aspects of the author from his Sicilian upbringing to his daily habits, family, lifestyle, popularity etc. It is a treat knowing more about the enigma who is a celebrity in Italy and has touched the lives of many.
Camilleri, who now lives in Rome, is originally from Porto Empedocle in Sicily. He loves James Joyce and Luigi Pirandello. His favorite book is The King of Girgenti which he took 5 years to write.
He mentions how he was brought up by women and was very close to his grandmother. Even his mother and mother in law lived with him in the same house after he was married! Camilleri’s world is very family-centric as is in most homes in Italy. He speaks of many aspects of his life such as his father dying in front of him and the closeness he shared with him.
One can see his published in different languages in his small studio covered with books from top to bottom. Camilleri believes that writing is not a difficult task as many point out, and is certainly easier than unloading crates. I am amazed to know this man who is so sorted and intelligent and witty, who is never seen without a cigarette in his hand..I am even more amazed to find out that the final Montalbano book has already been written when he feared Alzheimer’s at 80.
Every year one of the Montalbano books is published in English and I am waiting to get my hands on Voice in the Night -the latest that I saw on the Amazon site. What would I do without Stephen Sartarelli– the translator who is often forgotten in bringing the literate world from the Sicilian language to the English.
Without him I would have never know the descriptions of Sicilian life amongst a backdrop of crime, fine food and beautiful views as Camilleri rightly describes. Camiller’s dry humour as depicted rightly by Sartarelli it is to be savoured slowly as you would savour cannoli.
“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