Accabadora by Michela Murgia
Translator – Silvester Mazzarella
Well sometimes a book drops on the doorstep from a publisher and you go oh ,this was one I look at it and saw on the back cover that it had won six literary prizes in Italy ,that spike my interests as I can’t remember a recent English book winner that many garlands in recent times .The other thing I liked about getting sent this book is the fact I probably wouldn’t have got it myself .so what is it about . The title is the name give to a women that acts as an angel of death to the dying in rural Sardinia this particular Accabadora is called Bonaria Urrai ,she had adopt a young girl Maria hows mother was struggling looking after her .Maria think Bonaria is just a simple dressmaker, as Bonaria has tried to shield her daughter from her other job but over time Maira wonders where she disappears to at night times .But when maria finds out after Bonaria makes a difficult call on one young man she has been asked to attend , this sets of a chain of events that leads to her leaving her rural life and heading to the big city in this case Turin ,in a way this is just like any young women wanting to break free of family but in Maria’s case its overtures of what happened played on her mind whilst there leading to an interesting climax .
The attittadora had meanwhile changed her note ,intoning an improvised poem in praise of the dead man .To hear her shrieking in rhyme you would imagine no better man than Giacomo Littora had lived .
We meet the Attittadora (official mourner)
I could instantly se why this book won so many prizes Michela has tackle euthanasia in such an even and non-judgemental way ,one of the most even views of this subject I ve ever read ,I found it hard to imagine some such as Bonaria being around Italy at the time the book is set but a little web browsing show there were such people in real life ,hard to think as Italy is such a strong catholic country .The book deals with what family is too people and also how we all deal with death and the thought of a midwife of death as we brought into life by a women and thus should be seen into death by a women when needed .But also an underling theme to me is changing world of the traditional rural life and the busy modern cities of Turin ,I remember the films of Italy at the time the book is set in the forties and fifties the neo realism movement films like Rome open city and Stromboli and felt this book would have made a great neo realism film the quality of realism that falls of the page would work so well on the screen and you could imagine real people in rural Sardinia maybe letting us into this traditional world that I knew little of myself .so if you after a touching page turner this is the book for you .
Have you read this book ?