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The Day of the Owl

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  3,170 Ratings  ·  178 Reviews
A man is shot dead as he runs to catch the bus in the piazza of a small Sicilian town. Captain Bellodi, the detective on the case, is new to his job and determined to prove himself. Bellodi suspects the Mafia, and his suspicions grow when he finds himself up against an apparently unbreachable wall of silence. A surprise turn puts him on the track of a series of nasty ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by NYRB Classics (first published 1961)
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Glenn Russell
Jul 22, 2015 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing

Dawn in a city square, a man in a dark suit is just about to jump on the running-board of a bus when two earsplitting shots ring out. The man slumps down, shot dead. So begins this masterfully crafted tale of murder and the world of mafia crime in 1950s Sicily by Italian novelist, Leonardo Sciascia (1921-1989). The author was born and raised in Sicily and loved Sicily. After publishing several works on the history and politics of Sicily, Sciascia entered the world of crime – as a writer of crime
'Do you believe in the mafia?'
'Well, er...'
'And you?'
'No, I don't.'
'Good man! We two, both Sicilians, don't believe in the mafia.'
(The Day of the Owl, 33-34)

We two, both Sicilians, prefer to deny reality.


Violence! A man has been murdered, shot, in broad daylight in the town square of S. as he tried to board the bus. But who shot him--and why? The police, commanded by the newly-appointed Captain Bellodi, find no answers and all silence--the bus dr
Ma… voi ci credete alla mafia?
Sciascia ha una scrittura liscia e pulita, ma nello stesso tempo ricca ed elegante, una logica raffinata e non indifferenti capacità espressive che rendono subito la lettura piacevole e coinvolgente: in questo breve romanzo non si smentisce.
Scritto nell’estate del 1960, quando il Governo non solo si disinteressava del fenomeno della mafia, ma esplicitamente lo negava, è improntato come un ‘giallo’, di cui però conserva solo una superficiale etichetta. L’omicidio (d
La scrittura è magnifica e questo mi ha fatto trarre un profondo sospiro di piacere dopo averne letto anche solo poche pagine iniziali. Finalmente, dopo alcuni ultimi, incauti e disastrosi acquisti “libreschi”, ho potuto di nuovo abbandonarmi al piacere di seguire un periodare degno di tale nome, al gusto di rigirarmi tra le labbra un aggettivo che riusciva a conferire al sostantivo cui si riferiva un significato più intenso e corposo, alla soddisfazione di seguire un solido filo logico. ...more
Jun 03, 2014 Noce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
«Il popolo» sogghignò il vecchio «il popolo... il popolo cornuto era e cornuto resta: la differenza è che il fascismo appendeva una bandiera sola alle corna del popolo e la democrazia lascia che ognuno se l'appenda da sé, del colore che gli piace, alle proprie corna...»
Questo libro è un manifesto, un classico e un racconto.
E anche senza leggerlo, lo abbiamo già in testa, perché è arredato con l'Italia, quella in cui viviamo, che disprezziamo e che tanto alla fine amiamo.
Che cos'è la mafia?
Apr 10, 2015 [P] rated it really liked it
It is an often expressed opinion that overtly political novels become dated very quickly; in fact I read just that the other day in relation to Midnight in the Century by Victor Serge. Things change, is, I think, the general idea. Yet, while there may be some aspects of political fiction that, if you were not around at the time, or you’re not an expert on the subject, will be confusing or seem alien to your experience of the world, I do not accept that this means that it is unable to resonate ...more
Lyn Elliott
Oct 18, 2015 Lyn Elliott rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, italy
I read this on a plane on the long haul from Australia to Malta. Next is Sicily, and Sciascia is part of the immersion reading I've been trying to do over the last few weeks, in between endless resource books for new courses on tourism, so my mind is buzzing with interconnecting threads and will no doubt buzz more and more over the next few weeks.
The fact that Sciascia wrote his novels as a Sicilian who needed to survive in the world he wrote about, sets them in a category of their own for me. A
Oct 20, 2009 Jessica rated it liked it
New York Review Books covers: designed especially to console us poor schlumps who can't have Prada shoes? Maybe not, but they do help that bitter pill go down easier.

I feel like Italians are better known for fashion and food than for their fiction. I did enjoy this spare, oddly poetic and mostly-dialogue 1960s detective novel about mafia killings in Sicily, but I couldn't help daydreaming hungrily about clothes, art, and sex. I know actually nothing about Fascism or the Mafia, so a lot of this b
Patrizia O
Scritto quasi sessant'anni fa, risulta, purtroppo, ancora attualissimo. Mi è piaciuto molto lo stile, secondo me, raffinato e ironico.
Quando tua madre torna a casa con un libro che volevi leggere ma non le avevi chiesto (= non lo pago io) e tutto quello che puoi fare è sorridere come un cretino...xD

Un po' una delusione. Parte bene, ma alla fine non mi ha lasciato quasi nulla...
Maria Grazia
Sep 19, 2015 Maria Grazia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Un carabiniere fu mandato di corsa ad acchiappare il panellaro: sapeva dove trovarlo, che di solito, dopo la partenza del primo autobus, andava a vendere le panelle calde nell'atrio delle scuole elementari. Dieci minuti dopo il maresciallo aveva davanti il venditore di panelle: la faccia di un uomo sorpreso nel sonno più innocente.
- C'era? - domando il maresciallo al bigliettaio, indicando il panellaro.
- C'era - disse il bigliettaio guardandosi una scarpa.
- Dunque - disse con paterna dolcezza i
Tyler Jones
Jun 14, 2011 Tyler Jones rated it really liked it
The novels of Leonardo Sciascia are case studies of how humans cope within a corrupt society. The society, in his case, was Sicily; ostensibly run by a political and religious elite but in reality controlled by the oldest tradition of organized crime in the western world. Two groups of people exist: those who do wrong and pretend they do no wrong, and those who have been wronged and pretend they have not been wronged. For the average Sicilian turning a blind eye is not a character flaw, it is a ...more
Silvia Sirea
May 12, 2016 Silvia Sirea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Omertà. Coraggio. Impotenza. Queste sono le prime parole che mi vengono in mente quando penso a questo romanzo.
L'impatto è forte: la vicenda, ambientata in un paesino siciliano di cui non viene svelato il nome, si apre con un omicidio a cui assiste un numero consistente di persone, ma di cui nessuno, stranamente, ha visto nulla. Il capitano Bellodi è stato trasferito da poco in Sicilia e deve affrontare l'indagine che lo porterà faccia a faccia con la mafia.

L'importanza di questa opera non sta
Jan 11, 2013 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scambio
"Questo è il punto su cui bisognerebbe far leva. È inutile tentare di incastrare nel penale un uomo come costui: non ci saranno mai prove sufficienti, il silenzio degli onesti e dei disonesti lo proteggerà sempre. Ed è inutile, oltre che pericoloso, vagheggiare una sospensione di diritti costituzionali. Un nuovo Mori diventerebbe subito strumento politico-elettoralistico, braccio non del regime, ma di una porzione del regime. Qui bisognerebbe sorprendere la gente nel covo dell'inadempienza ...more
Jul 04, 2010 Olivia rated it really liked it
This book was recommended by an Italian friend, in response to my requests for good books about Italy. I took it on a trip to the beach yesterday, and finished it really quickly (it's only 120 pages, with relatively big print). It is a good book, and the story is interesting, and I feel that it does a good job of setting a scene, and it gives you a good feel for the Sicily it is talking about and the time period in which it is set. The characters were not very interesting, but that is not really ...more
Dec 07, 2014 Lucinda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic-fiction
This is a fantastic read.
The style is sharp and concise with spare and straightforward prose - at the same time there are these thoughtful and intriguing passages where characters reflect on the state of affairs in Sicily and Italy (circa 1960) and ruminate on its sociological, historical, and psychological causes. Fascinating.
While technically I suppose this fits in the crime novel category, I think it is part of the Italian tradition of crime novels, which are more social commentaries on how c
Loved the premise of this novel. A man is gunned down on the streets of a small town in Sicily and inexplicably all of the witnesses fall silent. It is up to the newly appointed Bellodi to delve into the murder but he finds himself up against the shadowy and sinister Mafia.

I found this to be a clunky read in parts but that may have been due to the translation. Being a shorter length novel there wasn't a lot of room for characterisation and I also had difficulty at times distinguishing which cha
Sep 25, 2009 Richard rated it it was amazing
A simple murder investigation becomes a fascinating, frustrating, and ultimately strangely moving glimpse of the hold the mafia had on Sicily in the early 1960s.
May 23, 2016 Nantawan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sono un po' delusa del finale anche se sapevo che da Sciascia non si può aspettare un finale da favola.
Eva Luna
Dec 12, 2015 Eva Luna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Questo libro magnifico mi ha fatto davvero rabbia. Da leggere. Categoricamente.
Sam Quixote
Jan 29, 2012 Sam Quixote rated it it was ok
Sicily in the mid-20th century and an honest man is gunned down in the street in plain view of dozens of witnesses - but no one saw a thing. Such is the extent of the fear the mafia exerts over everyone - except to outsiders. Captain Bellodi is assigned this frustrating case and quickly realises that everyone covers for everyone else for fear of being next on the list of the Mafiosi. Until a lucky break will lead him to head of the crime family... but will he survive the consequences?

Leonardo Sc
Amante Libri
Jul 20, 2016 Amante Libri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ho riletto, dopo molti anni, questo romanzo di denuncia della Mafia, dell'omertà e del silenzio complice e colpevole.
L'ho (ri)trovato bellissimo, un capolavoro di contenuto e di stile. Un racconto a cui nessun libro successivamente scritto sul medesimo argomento ha potuto aggiungere nulla di più, nè esser scritto in maniera migliore.
Leggerlo sarà sempre un'emozione rinnovata.

"Incredibile è anche l'Italia: e bisogna andare in Sicilia per constatare quanto è incredibile l'Italia..."

Il giorno de
Maria Beltrami
Sono passati 52 anni, niente è cambiato, compreso il fatto che qualcuno, agli alti livelli della politica, cerchi di dire che la mafia non esiste.
Ci sono stati morti, umili ed eccelletnti, c'è stata una commissione parlamentare, ci sono condanne definitive che non hanno tolto i politici condannati dal loro posto, ma l'intreccio tra affari e mafia si è sempre più rinsaldato, e i corretti metodi di indagine sono ancora quelli suggeriti da Sciascia, e ancora non messi in opera, sebbene ce ne si rie
Dec 31, 2007 Rick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europeanfiction
Forget The Godfather - this is the novel about the power of the Mafia in Sicily. On the surface this is a mystery novel, but on re-reading this novel goes to the heart of the corruption of Sicilian life and the politics of Italy. It is written with a sardonic lightness of touch that belies its seriousness of intent.

Great stuff and I'm so happy that it's been re-issued in the UK.
Oct 27, 2012 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Non è successo niente.
Oct 16, 2016 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't a huge dramatic book by any means, but it's a wonderful tight and well-painted story. It captures much that isn't easily held, and is certainly interesting. Though not exactly life-changing, it was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
Joyce Lagow
Jul 28, 2015 Joyce Lagow rated it really liked it
The Day of the Owl[return]Leonardo Sciascia[return][return]A Sicilian, thinks Captain Bellodi, of the Carabinieri, doesn t really relate that much to the national government; that s just the outside entity that imposes taxes, police, military service. What counts--the only thing that counts--is the family, which defines a Sicilian in much the same way that a contract does between, say an Internet service provider and a client. Such a contract clearly states the rights and responsibilities of ...more
Lorenzo Bovitutti
Oct 26, 2015 Lorenzo Bovitutti rated it liked it
Un libro scritto magnificamente sotto ogni punto di vista e che mi ha quasi commosso.

A parte lo storico dialogo:
"Voi ci credete alla mafia?
-E voi?
-Non ci credo.
-Bravissimo. Noi due, siciliani, alla mafia non ci crediamo. Ma vi capisco: non siete siciliano, e i pregiudizi sono duri a morire. Col tempo vi convincerete che è tutta una montatura.

La seduta in Parlamento è una scena avvilente che mi libera ondate d' odio.
E tutto si disfa in questa scena:
"[il capitano Bellodi] quasi a mezzo del
Ilaria Meliconi
Sep 02, 2011 Ilaria Meliconi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is impossible to do justice to a book like this, which has become a classic and in the opinion of many (me included) should be compulsory reading at school. It is the first Italian fiction book to deal with the mafia phenomenon, which is nowadays commonly accepted as a reality of many societies (not only Italy) but when Sciascia was writing, it certainly wasn’t.

The book deals with the murder of an entrepreneur, Colasberna, at the hands of the mafia. Carabinieri Captain Bellodi, who is origin
Ilaria ♡
Apr 07, 2015 Ilaria ♡ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Romanzo molto attuale, anche troppo..
Ambientato nella Sicilia degli anni '60, racconta di un duplice omicidio per mano della mafia, in un periodo in cui era negata l'esistenza di tale organizzazione, e il governo non faceva assolutamente nulla per intervenire.

Il linguaggio dell'autore è molto semplice e scorrevole, dritto al punto, ma si carica di carattere 'filosofico' in alcuni punti, specialmente nei dialoghi tra i boss mafiosi e in quello tra il capitano Bellodi e don Mariano delle ultime p
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NYRB Classics: The Day of the Owl, by Leonardo Sciascia 1 7 Oct 22, 2013 11:50AM  
  • That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana
  • Fontamara
  • The Moon and the Bonfire
  • As a Man Grows Older
  • Uomini e no
  • The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
  • Il birraio di Preston
  • Il partigiano Johnny
  • The Viceroys
  • I Malavoglia
  • Romanzo criminale
  • Un anno sull'altipiano
  • La ragazza di Bube
  • Reeds in the Wind
  • Il bell'Antonio
  • Accabadora
  • History
  • The Silent Duchess
Leonardo Sciascia wrote of his unique Sicilian experience, linking families with political parties, the treachery of alliances and allegiances and the calling of favours that resort in outcomes that are not for the benefit of society, but of those individuals who are in favour.
Sciascia perhaps, in the end, wanted to prove that the corruption that was and is endemic in Italian society helps only t
More about Leonardo Sciascia...

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“Maybe the whole of italy is becoming a sort of Sicily.” 10 likes
“Scientists say that the palm tree line, that is the climate suitable to growth of the palm, is moving north, five hundred metres, I think it was, every year...The palm tree line...I call it the coffee line, the strong black coffee line...It's rising like mercury in a thermometer, this palm tree line, this strong coffee line, this scandal line, rising up throughout Italy and already passed Rome...” 4 likes
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