Many authors have portrayed mafia in their novels, but not all are able to avoid the stereotyped image of Sicily and its people. Too often the criminal word of Southern Italy and those who are part of it are described with images filtered from tv and movies. Something very different from the much more complicated reality.
Joseph D’Amato, thirty years in the textile business before he became a novelist, is the author of “Seeds of the Lemon Grove”, the opening volume of a trilogy that explores the dark side of Southern Italy through the story of a family.
The story follows the journey of Phillip LaChiana, born in Sicily and grown up in New York. After graduating from law school, Phillips decides to travel to Italy with some friends, and then to Sicily as a final destination. Here he meets his maternal grandfather, who reveals him unexpected secrets. The one supposed to be a side trip, changes Phillip’s life. He discovers his family’s past, and is taken into a world of mystery, from which he can’t escape.
The protagonist seems to have no intention to run away from this obscure land, which, as Ulysses’ sirens, attracts and kills. This is what happens to Phillip. It doesn’t take too long before this middle class, sometimes naïve character changes completely and turns into a different man.
Sicily seems to be lost in time in this novel. This mysterious land will change your life, hopefully not always like in the story.
Author Joseph D’Amato was born in New York City, and currently lives north of Cincinnati with his wife Linda. “I began my career writing in-house advertising copy and pieces for the Daily News Record and Woman’s Wear Daily” he says. “For me, writing about Sicilian culture, is a lot more gratifying than writing about woman’s hemlines. Being Sicilian means living with conflicts of responsibility, family, and honor.” Fortunately, not all the Sicilians are like the characters in this novel. Whoever makes of this land its own place, has to face a hard reality, but many chose to fight it the way they can.
Let’s see if the sequel will give this beautiful land a second chance.
“Seeds of the Lemon Grove” is available on Amazon at www.amazon.com