Here are some of Sciascia's greatest stories - brief and haunting, the realist tradition at its best. In one tale a couple of men talk, cynically yet earnestly, about the etymology of the word 'mafia' - who they are, and why their interest is so piqued by the word, becomes apparent with frightening clarity. In another story a group of peasants are taken on board ship and promised that they will be put ashore illegally at Trenton, New Jersey; after a long time at sea, their landfall is far from what they expected. And Mussolini himself takes an interest in the case of Aleister Crowley, whose presence in Sicily has become an embarrassment.
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