Final Inspector Montalbano, Completed Years Ago, Released in UK | Books

The latest novel in Andrea Camilleri’s beloved mystery series Inspector Montalbano was released on Thursday – but the late author actually finished it five years ago, to prevent his detective’s story does not continue after his death.

The series, which follows the greedy Sicilian sleuth as he solves crimes against the backdrop of a changing Italy, has been translated into 32 languages, with more than 65 million copies sold worldwide. Camilleri wrote the first book on Salvo Montalbano in 1994 at the age of almost 70; he began writing on the 28th in 2004, depositing the manuscript at his publishing house in Palermo on the promise that it would be kept in a locked safe and published only after his death. “Sherlock Holmes has been recovered… but it will not be possible to recover Montalbano. In this latest book, he’s really done, ”he told The Guardian in 2012.

Camilleri died in 2019, and Riccardino, the 28th and final novel in the Montalbano series, was published in Italy in 2020. The English edition was translated by Stephen Sartarelli, and sees the inspector investigating the murder in full day of a man called Riccardino who had called him that morning. Metafictional and break the fourth wall, it presents interventions of the “Author” while Montalbano seeks to find the solution, Camilleri clearly having a lot of fun along the way.

“You make me write a shitty novel about Riccardino’s story.” It’s a pile of dung that doesn’t hold together, ”the author tells Montalbano. “‘Do you really mean that?’ “I really mean it. You bring in way too many conflicting elements and you keep them all on the same level so that the reader gets lost in the confusion. This mystery is a big mishmash that reads like this.” it was written by a beginner. ‘”

In an author’s note written in 2005 and included with the book, Camilleri wrote: “This is the last novel with Inspector Montalbano as the protagonist. I will no longer write in the series. I regret it, but at 80, you can’t avoid the fact that too much, too much has to come to an end.

Eleven years later, in November 2016, he revisits the unpublished work. “After turning 91 and being surprised to still be alive and wanting to continue writing, I thought it would be a good idea to ‘adjust’ Riccardino’s story,” he adds. . “I lost my eyesight so I had no choice but to ask my friend Valentina to read it out loud to me. Listening, I was surprised by my own words. I no longer remembered the story, which I found good and unfortunately still relevant.

Camilleri, who dedicated the novel to his late editor Elvira Sellerio, said he hadn’t changed the plot, but “found it necessary to update the language”.

British Camilleri editor Maria Rejt at Mantle said: “It’s typical of Andrea – he decided he had an idea of ​​how to end the series and how to write Montalbano from fiction. . It’s meta but it works. When he wrote the first one he didn’t see it as a series, but then because he received such warmth from readers he thought “maybe I can use Montalbano as a vehicle. “. He had a total rage against corruption in Sicilian and Italian society, and he channeled that into the great heat of Montalbano. But he’s not preaching to you, he’s not standing on his soapbox. I think he just thought, “Montalbano is me, and I too will dissolve myself from life”, so I think the ending is just perfect. Like all authors, he wanted to stay in control.

Sartarelli recalled a trip to Rome to see Camilleri, with a group of British booksellers, around 2008. The author, who was generally reluctant about the last novel, admitted to having written it so that it would not. not remain unfinished if they were to die suddenly.

“When asked how he put an end to it all, he just replied that he didn’t want to kill his character like others had, and so he just did” s ‘go “. Then one of the [booksellers] asked, “But if he’s still alive, aren’t you afraid that after your death another writer might bring him back and continue his stories?” Sartarelli said. “To which Camilleri replied, in his typical mix of Sicilian and Italian: ‘I quello che succeeds dopo the dead mia, me no stracatafotto ‘. It cracked me up immediately, almost unable to provide the necessary translation for the others to have fun (as untranslatable as the punchline was): “As for what happens after I die, I don’t care.”

Sartarelli said he later understood that saying that Montalbano “would” just “go away”andrà via“, was a rather sneaky answer, since we had no idea he literally meant it … In fact, if memory serves, I remember when pressed, he said Montalbano would “disappear” (split, in Italian). Again, he couldn’t have been more specific, ”he said.

The translator said he first read Riccardino with some trepidation, aware of his importance and “anxious that he lived up to all expectations.”

“I must say that I was not disappointed. For me, it’s a tour de force and I wanted everything to be as fair as possible, ”he said. “The dialogues between author and character are particularly intelligent, in my opinion, and the tone is de rigueur, as is so often the case when translating an author so dependent on irony and sarcasm. than Camilleri. It was really crucial that these dialogues did not seem forced, because they are, by conventional standards, totally artificial. But I really think the Montalbano series couldn’t have a more fitting ending. “

Sartarelli added that Camilleri started writing about Montalbano when he was challenged by friend, author and Sicilian compatriot Leonardo Sciascia, to write a detective novel. It has become, he says, “a phenomenon which with its success (especially in Italy) has attracted the rest of the world and its various means of expression and has created a kind of ontological, metaphysical dilemma not only for the character. de Montalbano but for the author himself. And Andrea solved it as best he could, and as only he could: with wit, grace, melancholy and a world of human warmth.

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