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Andrea Camilleri, author of Inspector Montalbano novels, dies at 93

By July 19, 2019No Comments

Source : The Indian Express

He is survived by his wife, Rosetta Dello Siesto, whom he married in 1957, three daughters, four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Andrea Camilleri, who took a late-career stab at writing a mystery novel and came up with the Inspector Montalbano detective series, which became wildly successful in Italy and was the basis for a popular television series, died Wednesday morning in a hospital in Rome. He was 93.

A spokeswoman for the hospital, the Santo Spirito, confirmed the death, which came a month after Camilleri was hospitalised with complications of a broken thigh bone and heart problems. “I have an extremely disorderly manner of writing,” Camilleri told The New York Times in 2002. “I don’t write like Snoopy: ‘It was a dark and stormy night.’ I couldn’t start with Chapter 1.”

A mystery, he thought, might force him into more manageable habits. “Everything has to follow a certain logic,” he said. “Everything has to be in a certain place.”

The experiment resulted in “The Shape of Water,” published in Italy in 1994. The novel introduced Inspector Salvo Montalbano, who investigates crimes in the fictional Sicilian town of Vigata. That isn’t easy, since corruption is endemic there.

In the opening novel, when a local power broker is found dead in a dicey part of town with his pants around his ankles, a coroner rules that he had died of natural causes, and officials pressure Montalbano not to look further. But Montalbano is a man with a strong sense of justice and a willingness to bend rules to achieve it.

The book, published when Camilleri was 69, sold well enough to warrant a sequel, “The Terra-Cotta Dog,” in 1996, and then another, and another. In a 1998 interview with the Italian magazine L’Espresso, he said word-of-mouth had done the trick.

“I sold 10,000 copies because people phoned each other, and in the same way you suggest a movie, they were suggesting my books,” he said.

The series, written in a combination of Italian and Sicilian, grew to more than two dozen titles.

Camilleri was four books into it when his inspector was elevated to a whole new level of popularity by “Il Commissario Montalbano,” a television series from the Italian state broadcaster RAI that has been running since 1999. It has also aired abroad, including on the BBC in Britain. Luca Zingaretti plays Montalbano. The Montalbano books, too, gained an international audience. The first English translations appeared in 2002 and quickly found fans, including among book critics.

Marilyn Stasio, writing in The Times that year, called “The Shape of Water” a “savagely funny police procedural.” Four years later, when “The Smell of Night” appeared in English, she advised, “For sunny views, explosive characters and a snappy plot constructed with great farcical ingenuity, the writer you want is Andrea Camilleri.”

Andrea Camilleri was born on Sept. 6, 1925, to Carmella and Giuseppe Camilleri in Porto Empedocle, a town in southwestern Sicily that became a model for Vigata. (For a time in the last decade, the town changed its name to Porto Empedocle Vigata, hoping to capitalize on tourism inspired by the Montalbano books.)

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