R: RARA-AVIS: Leonardo Sciascia and others

From: Luca Conti ( luca.conti8@tin.it)
Date: 21 Jan 2003

Nicole Leclerc wrote:

>Scerbanenco is Italian. I remember reading one of his books but the memory
is very faint. I have the feeling it was hardboiled though.

Scerbanenco is considered the Italian Cornell Woolrich. He was not Italian, even if he spent in Italy a great part of his life and wrote in Italian. He was Russian, born in Kiev in 1911. He started in the '30s with a series of straight mystery novels set in Boston, with American characters - a place, I think, where he had never been. After the war he rapidly became one of the fastest and most prolific short story writers in Italy, with literally thousands and thousands of short stories under his belt, mostly sentimental in tone and aimed to the late 1950's-early 1960's Italian female readers. On the other hand, in the late 1960s he started an incredibly dark series of novels featuring Duca Lamberti, a physician banned from the profession for malpractice who is regularly asked to deal with border situations. Scerbanenco died in 1969. He is considered the father of Italian noir (which is a very prolific genre, by the way).

One of Scerbanenco's youngest disciples is Massimo Carlotto, a young writer from Padova who spent many years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Today he is one of the most popular Italian writers, with five novels in the
"Alligatore" series (The Alligatore is a former blues singer who spent many years in prison, and so on...) and a couple of standalones (one of which,
"Arrivederci, Amore, Ciao" is a novel worthy of Elmore Leonard at his best).

Santo Piazzese is a Sicilian mystery writer who has become quite popular in recent years. He has written three novels, but I won't define him as hardboiled, though. Nice atmosphere, very sophisticated stories, not quite Sicilian as you may know it.

>Izzo I've never read but isn't he the one who killed himself a few years
back trying to test a method of killing for one of his books
>and falling from his window to his death in the process? I think he's

The one you're talking about is Eugene Izzi, a great Chicago writer. Jean-Claude Izzo - who also died recently - was of French/Italian descent. Great French noir with a touch of Italian fatalism. Read him if you can: he has not written much ("Solea", after the Gil Evans/Miles Davis tune, is a very good novel, in my opinion).

Best, Luca

Luca Conti

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