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Il giorno della civetta

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  5,638 ratings  ·  309 reviews
Di questo romanzo breve sulla mafia, apparso per la prima volta nel 1961, ha scritto Leonardo Sciascia: "... ho impiegato addirittura un anno, da un'estate all'altra, per far più corto questo racconto. Ma il risultato cui questo mio lavoro di 'cavare' voleva giungere era rivolto più che a dare misura, essenzialità e ritmo, al racconto, a parare le eventuali e possibili ...more
Kindle Edition, 137 pages
Published September 22nd 2011 by Adelphi (first published 1961)
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Glenn Russell
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Jim Fonseca
The Day of the Owl by Leonardo Sciascia

The first and the best-known detective novel written by this Sicilian author starting in the 1960’s. A man is shot early one morning while waiting for a bus. No one sees anything but the bus driver says it all: “They’ve killed him.”


We’re in a culture where the people consider the law “utterly irrational, created on the spot by those in command.” As we are told in one of the blurbs, “everything works to keep the truth from coming out.”

Into this environment
'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)

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 driver, naturally, was looking at the road; the passengers could not see through fogged-up
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed

Mainlanders are decent enough but just don’t understand things.

I came across Sciascia when browsing through the Sicily travel guide last week, which recommended The Day of the Owl (alongside Lampedusa's The Leopard) as quintessential Sicilian reads.

The Day of the Owl begins with a murder that takes places in broad daylight in a town square. There is an abundance of witnesses but nobody claims to have seen anything or know anything significant that could lead the police to the killer.
And so
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
There's no subtlety here: the darkness is named. And the result is more or less the same as the other Sciascia novels I've read. Meaning: (view spoiler).

I always like Sciascia's sleuths, this time Captain Bellodi. His calm certainty can unnerve a man:

To a journalist who had asked him about Captain Bellodi, Don Mariano had replied: 'He's a man.' When the journalist asked whether by this Don Mariano meant like all men he was fallible, or whether on the
Steven Godin
The Day of the Owl, Sciascia's most famous work, turned out to a pretty decent piece of crime/detective fiction about the Mafia. It was well written, with an intriguing plot, and it also, you feel, doubles as a political statement (Sciascia being passionate about his homeland), but I found his short story collection 'The wine-dark sea' the better book in terms of delivering an uncompromising portrait of Sicily. Crime fiction fans would likely appreciate this more than me, as it's a genre I don't ...more
In the coda Sciascia talks about the golden rule of writing, of honing the story down to the essential at the same time leaving colour. I love this, this is good writing craft at work. Where each word stands up to be counted and I the reader am not drowned in a barrage of words which leave me searching for what the author wants to say.

So kudos to The Day of the Owl, my first Sciascia. A picture of being caught up between a rock and a tight place, with no recourse whatsoever. The Sicilians are
Lyn Elliott
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I don't remember now how this came to my attention. I think it might have been because I was looking at the list of Bloom's Western Canon, and specifically for 20th Century authors in translation - all things for this Winter's challenge. I'm pretty sure I thought it was a mystery (and why not? several members have it shelved that way) and I've been in sort of a reading funk for things that are more normal for me. I'm certainly glad to have found this author.

However, I wouldn't call it much of a
Tom LA
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the most powerful and realistic piece of fiction about the problem of the Sicilian Mafia I’ve ever read. This is a beautifully written and very deep "kind of" crime story that looks at the root of the issue, and not just at the tip of the iceberg.

The owl, such an elusive creature, is not supposed to be seen during the day, after all.
I don't know if there is more I can say about Sciascia than I've already said...and surely it's been said better by others. It's a surreal world he describes, and to think in actuality it is the real world.

I recommend to anybody who has read the Neapolitan series by Ferrante to read these. It gives a different perspective on the corrupt and violent society which is the source of her writing.
Tyler Jones
Jun 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sam Quixote
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?

Nov 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few years ago I watched the movie based on this book, Il Giorno della Civetta (1968), and included it in my Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir. Recently I came across a copy of the novel, and snatched it up.

The plot's quite simple. A man is gunned down while trying to catch a bus in a small Sicilian town. Despite there being many people around, nobody saw anything. The carabiniere Captain Bellodi, a newcomer to the area, optimistically sets out to solve the crime, and soon concludes that
J.M. Hushour
Not bad, but not much either. This is a minimalist sort of detective story, with a heavy emphasis on the minimalist and an almost complete lack of emphasis on 'detective'.
A phantasmal police captain in Sicily comes up against the local mafia while investigating a drive-by. There isn't much more to say beyond that. It's not badly written, nor is it particularly interesting or memorable. Plays out just how you'd expect, with a few little flavorful hints of Sicily's rich culture throw in for good
Jul 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Well-written and fascinating; I loved the fact that Captain Bellodi, while both efficient and righteous, seems to have blundered from his pleasant native Parma into a Sicilian world where he is prevented from getting at the truth by the incessant corruption of those around him. The best description of this is from the informer, Dibella, who says that he "had never, could never have, believed that the law was definitely codified and the same for all; for him between rich and poor, between wise ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perfect package.
Another great novel by Sciascia.

A fast, quick paced novel on the mafia and their wide and far reach to not only in Sicily but Northern Italy as well.

If you want to get a taste of how the mafia really works, especially during the 6os, then this is the novel for you.
Justin Evans
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wouldn't really recommend this to someone as a novel, but as a kind of j'accuse poem, it's very nice. I imagine it having a long life in University courses on 20th century Italian History and Culture, but not literature.

On the other hand, maybe it's expanding what you can do with a novel; it does away with names, for the most part, and character, and narrative coherence, but it does a great deal with conspiracy, the personal cost of chasing the Mafia in post-war Italy, and almost total
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 31, 2007 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.
Jeremy Allan
Read this in a brief sprint while in Sicily and the timing couldn't have been better. I was sick and lumbering through the incredible heat of July, and Leonardo Sciascia's dark and cynical novel(la) was exactly what I needed.

I really loved the way that writes in a way that seems to leave characters almost shrouded in darkness, only to be revealed as the aperture of the narrative opens up, or not. Some characters will come to have names, personalities, and wills, others may seem on the same path
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A masterful, pithy illustration of the Mafia experience in Sicily. perhaps most intriguing is the author' afterword where he claims to have dramatically reduced the length of the novel to it's tight 122 page running time. This is for fear of recriminations but also to get his message across and it's probably all the more powerful for it. Contrasts between an old style mafia that used guns and protection as their methods are contrasted with the semi-automatic weaponry and international drug ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So good. Stars in my eyes.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a story about Italian shenanigans regarding the Mafia, Sicilian custom, and the ubiquitous Northerner from Parma who tries to do the right thing in a multiple murder case. Fails, as expected. The book is really an essay in corrupt politics, the author's disgust in plain sight. At the very end, it seems the Northerner is bound to return to Sicily, so I'm getting ready to get the next book in the series. Recommend.
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NYRB Classics: The Day of the Owl, by Leonardo Sciascia 1 10 Oct 22, 2013 11:50AM  

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Leonardo Sciascia (1921-1989) 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
“Maybe the whole of italy is becoming a sort of Sicily.” 16 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...” 6 likes
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