The Sicilian by Mario Puzo

Published in 1984 by Random House Publishing Group

About the Author

Mario Puzo was an American author, screen writer and journalist. He is known for his crime novels about the Mafia, most notably The Godfather (1969) which he later adapted into a three part film saga directed by Francis Ford Coppola. He received the Academy award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the first film in 1972 and Part 2 in 1974. Puzo also wrote the original screen play for the 1978 Superman film. His last novel, The Family, was released posthumously in 2001.


Review

Yes, I’ve become a fan of this author. This book kept me bitiing my fingernails during the weekend I read it. The novel opens in 1950 Sicily, where Michael Corleone, near the end of his exile in Sicily, meets with Don Croce Malo, discussing a plan to rescue Guiliano (a local bandit called the People’s champion) and ship him to America. 

The bulk of the novel focuses on Salvatore Guiliano and how he rose to his legendary status as a bandit and hero to the Sicilian’ people. On a September morning in 1943, Turi Guiliano and his best friend Aspanu Pisciotta travelled to the nearby town of Corleone to procure some food for his sister’s engagement party. On the way back, they were stopped by the carabinieri, and decided to take them on, for the food was too valuable. Turi was shot, but he also managed to shoot his attacker, a police Sergeant, through the eye. They flee to the Cammaratta Mountains and become outlaws but loved by the people through various acts to help the poor. 

This book is written so well that I’d pick this over the Godfather any day (shocking, I know). Sicily is a much better backdrop than America because to understand why people choose to become the way they do is understandable in the poverty of Sicily rather than the riches of America. Guiliano is beautiful, cruel and humane all at the same time.  Aspanu Pisciotta’s character stands out though – the childhood friend and cousin of Salvatore Guiliano. A sly, thin and handsome young man suffering from tuberculosis drew me in as a character. His motivations weren’t love or loyalty or atleast if they were, it didn’t show which makes him all the more intriguing.

Anything more and I would ruin the book for you but the ending stumped me – that’s the way with good books. Hope you enjoy this one!