Girish Joshi

The Sicilian

2 min read

In chess, one of the most combative and powerful openings for black is Sicilian Defence. It’s not an opening for the lazy, defensive, or weak-hearted. It’s for a ruthlessly brave Sicilian. It has elements of romanticism, bloodshed, justice, betrayal, and treachery. Much like Mario Puzo’s novel The Sicilian.

“That is Sicily,” the Don said. “There is always treachery within treachery within treachery.”

This is a gripping story of Turi Giuliano — a bandit hero of Sicily, a modern-day Robin Hood, who fights against the injustices of Rome and the Mafia and is revered by the common citizens of the country. A power tussle exists between Don Croce (nominal head of Mafia, Friends of the Friends) and Turi which constitutes the spine of the story. And although Don is able to outwit Turi in the end to death, continuing to live a lifeless life, Turi becomes a mythical hero…a legend. This book takes you to Sicily, her cities, her people, and her mountains, and it would be fair to say that Sicily in this novel is not just a setting, but also a character. I’ll tell you the honest reason why I wanted to read this book, few years ago, looking at the map of Italy and Sicily, a friend of mine exclaimed to me: look, it looks like a shoe (Italy) kicking Sicily. That was the inciting incident for me to put The Godfather and The Sicilian on my Kindle.

Although this book kept me hooked till the last page, filling my imagination with vivid details, the complaint I have with this book is that all the minor characters felt quite hollow to me, they felt as if they were just placeholders. I’m not sure how long I am going to remember this story. I might change my opinion as time will pass me by, but for now, I’d say that The Sicilian, contrary to my expectations, did not possess the magic The Godfather did.

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