Andrea Camilleri – In Memoriam
Andrea Camilleri, one of Italy’s most popular authors and creator of the Inspector Montalbano series, died July 17, the Guardian reported. He was 93. Camilleri had written a few historical novels when, in 1994, he wrote The Shape of Water, the first book starring a Sicilian detective based in the fictional town of Vigata.
The Montalbano series includes more than two dozen books, which have been translated into 32 languages and sold more than 30 million copies. The Potter’s Field, translated into English by Stephen Sartarelli, won the British Crime Writers Association’s International Dagger. Camilleri published his 27th Montalbano novel, Il cuoco dell’Alcyon, in 2018.
The final novel in the series was written 13 years ago, but has been kept in his publisher’s Palermo offices for safekeeping. In 2012, Camilerri said, “When I get fed up with him or am not able to write any more, I’ll tell the publisher: publish that book. Sherlock Holmes was recovered… but it will not be possible to recover Montalbano. In that last book, he’s really finished.”
The Italian TV adaptation of Camilleri’s books “has brought tourists by the busload to Sicily. Camilleri’s home town of Porto Empedocle is so proud of its connection that it officially changed its name to Porto Empedocle Vigata” from 2003 to 2009, the Guardian noted.
Had he died in his 50s, Camilleri’s obituary “would certainly not have been published in the Guardian. His death might have been noted in the cultural sections of the odd Italian newspaper and it would doubtless have merited a substantial article in the journal of Italy’s pre-eminent drama school, the Accademia Nazionale d’Arte Drammatica, where Camilleri was for many years in charge of teaching directing.”
Success as a novelist, however, “inspired Camilleri to a frenzy of literary activity at an age when most writers are in tranquil decline,” the Guardian wrote. “Between 1994, when his first Montalbano story appeared, and his death, at the age of 93, he not only published 30 books detailing the exploits of his grouchy sleuth, but more than 60 others.”
Europa Editions noted that toward the end of his life, Camilleri “brought his trademark wit and noir pacing to a new project: a series of historical novels retelling key, forgotten moments in Sicilian history.” Translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli, these works include The Sect of Angels, The Sacco Gang and The Revolution of the Moon.
Europa editor-in-chief Michael Reynolds commented: “Andrea Camilleri was a writer of the highest order whose books entertained and edified millions of readers worldwide. His humanity, his generous spirit, his biting humor, and his unwavering sense of justice were repaid with the adulation and admiration of fans of all ages, nationalities, and walks of life. The world is left a little darker by his passing, but we can be profoundly grateful for all that he was able to give us.”
Expressing “great, great sadness,” Maria Rejt, Camilleri’s U.K. editor, told the Bookseller: “I have published the English translations of his novels for seventeen years now and, throughout that time, his passion for social justice and the people of Sicily–which shines through in everything he writes–has never wavered. The millions of readers he has gained over the world are a testament to the universality of his characters, principles and literary genius. The legacy he leaves us is beyond measure.” (Shelf Awareness, July 18, 2019)