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The expression 'Sicilian uncle' has the same sense in Italian as 'Dutch uncle' does in English, but with sinister overtones of betrayal and inconstancy. The four novellas in Sicilian Uncles, originally published in 1958, are political thrillers of a kind - the first fruits of Sciascia's maturity. In these stories, illusions about ideology and history are lost in mirth, suffering and abandoned innocence. Each novella has its historical moment: the Allied invasion of Sicily, the Spanish Civil War, the death of Stalin, the 'events' of 1848. These occasions and their consequences are registered in the lives of Sciascia's wonderfully drawn characters. Each has voice, wit and a private history which opens out onto the wider circumstances of his time.
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