Sicily has always acted as a gateway between Europe and the rest of the world. Fought over by Phoenicians and Greeks, Romans, Goths and Byzantines, Arabs and Normans, Germans, Spanish and French for thousands of year, Sicily became a unique melting pot where diverse traditions merged, producing a unique heritage and singular culture.
In this fascinating account of the island from the earliest times to the present day, author and journalist Jamie Mackay leads us through this most elusive of places. From its pivotal position in the development of Greek and Roman mythology, and the beautiful remnants of both the Arab and Norman invasions, through to the rise of the bandits and the Cosa Nostra, The Invention of Sicily charts the captivating culture and history of Sicily.
Mackay weaves together the political and social development of the island with its fascinating cultural heritage, discussing how great works including Lampedusa’s masterpiece The Leopard and its film adaptation by Visconti, and the novels of Leonardo Sciascia, among many others, have both been shaped by Sicily’s past, and continue to shape it in the present.
“A fascinating and imaginative work that should prompt us to reconsider some of the nationalist binaries that continue to structure our world.”
“In this marvelous book, Jamie Mackay brilliantly reinvents Sicily for us as a palimpseste of meanings echoing through its tumultuous history—as a metaphor for the entire world, as the limits of the Western world, as a place of encounter between worlds. His beloved Sicilians engage in a conversation across epochs, as if their unending resistance against attacks on their freedoms or against un-examined imports, from religious dogma, to capitalist logics, to nationalist monocultural narratives or the idea of the modern state, had prepared the ground for their most inspiring exceptionalist stance to date—a stubborn refusal to imitate the rest of Europe and turn those seeking refuge on their shores into ‘others’. I can think of no better demonstration than the story found in these pages that the soul of Europe lies in its outer periphery.”
“A startling new voice analyzing the history of Sicily from its ancient origins to the present day with forthright clarity and profound sympathy. No excuses for the support of Mussolini or toleration of Cosa Nostra, but convincing explanations, enlivened by Sicilian novels, films, paintings and buildings. A fresh, exciting and eminently readable book.”
“[Mackay’s] keen eye for telling details and lucid prose make this an accessible introduction to a complex and fascinating culture.”
“The scope of Mackay’s knowledge and presentation is astounding … glorious and intelligent.”
“An enjoyable canter across a history, and a place, which are entrancing and disturbing by turns.”
“Lush and vibrant.”