Review: Conversation in Sicily by Elio Vittorini

“What is a man?” Vittorini asks. Downright depressed and unhappy with his life and work in a northern Italian megalopolis seems to be the answer as the narrative begins. The narrator’s impromptu return to his native Sicilian hamlet, 15 years after his departure, begins a series of conversations with sharply defined characters he meets along the way and in his home town. Each successive interaction with people as varied as fellow travelers on a train heading south, his mother, or the ghost of his brother, forces the narrator (in an end note Vittorini asserts the book is not autobiographical) to deal with his anomie and face his demons.

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