Aged seven, Francesco Scannella’s world turns upside down when he is uprooted from his English suburban home, and sent to the heartland of the Cosa Nostra. As a result he forgets that he ever spoke English and survives by the sharpness of his wit and the strength of his fists, adopting the machismo ways of his elders. Consequently, every day is a fight for survival, gang violence is the norm, and the Mafia rules.
In this compelling memoir, the author throws open a window on the true nature of Sicilians. He explains how and why they turn to the Mafia and how desperate life was at the time. He tells with wry humour and brutal honesty of tragic young love; of how a school friend became an assassin; of politics and philosophy, cookery and cryptozoology. Frank Sinatra makes an appearance, as does the father of the modern Mafia, Don Caló Vizzini.
Sicilian Shadows is an absorbing story of the loss of innocence, a homage to a homeland, and a history lesson about one of the most misunderstood societies in the world. A Sicily that was light years away from cosmopolitan Palermo and the paparazzi glitz of 1960s Italy. No-one from that region with the author’s connections or perspective has ever written about what it was really like.
Names, times and places, for obvious reasons, have been altered – he has a family and a life.