Giller Shortlist: Lampedusa by Steven Price

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Insights into Steven Price’s novel, Lampedusa, may differ depending on if you’ve read Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard.

 

Marcie’s review, which can be read in full at Buried in Print, shows how The Leopard relates to Price’s novel as well as to the present day.

 

If that kind of circularity appeals to you, then you will need to know a little more about the origins of the original novel, the one that inspires Price. The Everyman’s edition of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s 1958 classic The Leopard (translated from the Italian by Archibald Colquhoun in 1991) contains a short work of memoir afterwards. In only 30 pages, one begins to understand how important time and memory are to the author, personally and creatively.

Di Lampedusa’s novel about how life changed for a prince in 19th-century Sicily, dramatically and irreversibly, is also a meditation on how we, as human beings, face and experience change and how we cope with inevitability, as well as the larger questions simmering beneath (say, about authenticity and decline).

And also how we, as human beings, share this cyclical challenge with other animals, with four-legged creatures as well – the prince’s dog, Bendicò, begins and ends the novel – and, yet, there are so many things about being human which we prize (and sometimes claim to be unique to our species): literature, communication, friendship, love, art, beauty and understanding.

 

My review, which can be read in full at Consumed by Ink, shows that the message of the novel shows through even if you have not read The Leopard.

 

Readers of The Leopard, I think, will likely get more out of this novel than I did, but even so I can admire what Price has done with it. Giuseppe comes to life on these pages; quiet, thoughtful, soft-spoken, solitary, melancholy, bookish, a Sicilian through and through with a fondness for sweet pastries. A character study of a dying man who reflects on his life with questions and regrets, but also with moments of joy.

These moments of joy give us relief from the somber atmosphere of the book. Giuseppe’s wife Licy, an independent and intelligent woman, makes a good match for him and his fondness for reading, studying, and conversation. But literature is Giuseppe’s great joy – and has been with him throughout his life – reading, writing, reflecting, and discussing it with friends and family.

No life can be lived deeply… if it is lived outside of art.

 

Interested in more? You can find the Shadow Giller reading schedule here.

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Lampedusa. Or any other bookish thing you’d like to say! Have you read The Leopard?

 

We’ve now read and reviewed all the books on this year’s Giller shortlist. It’s time to come up with our winner – so stay tuned! Any predictions?

 

 

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2 Responses to “Giller Shortlist: Lampedusa by Steven Price”

  1. Penny Says:

    I wouldn’t mind if either Lampedusa or The Innocents won tonight. There are both very different with Lampedusa being very, very different from all the others nominated, but these are the two that left the biggest impression on me.

    Excited to see who the Shadow Giller crowns!

    Liked by 1 person

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