It was 1994 when Camilleri’s “The Shape of Water” was published. It was the first episode of Inspector Montalbano’s saga, which, after more than 25 years, is about to end. Truly the end of an era. In fact, exactly a year after Camilleri’s death, his last work “Riccardino” will be released just tomorrow. We, Montalbano’s fans, cannot be but absolutely thrilled to discover what kind of finale Maestro Camilleri imagined for his hero. Being very close to retirement, as we ave read in the last books, will he eventually leave his beloved Vigata to join Livia, his perpetual fiancèe,  in Boccadasse? Will he die in one of his missions?

I am pretty confident that Camilleri found a way to close the curtains without being predictitable. In fact, it was 2005 when Camilleri delivered the draft of “Riccardino” to Elvira Sellerio, his publisher, but with the promise to release it in an unspecified tomorrow. In 2016, after eleven years and 15 books, Camilleri returned to those pages because he needed to “fix” the language adapting it to the times. Nothing changed in the plot and not even in the title which remained identical. In fact, differently from the essential and evocative titles of the other books like “the Shape of Water” to “The Snack Thief”, Camilleri with “Riccardino” wanted to mark an end. A definite one.

As Camilleri recounted in an old interview, at one point of his life he had to tackle with the problem of the “seriality” of his novels. A problem that many noir writers have and that he had decided to solve by making Montalbano age, thus dealing with all the changes that this would have entailed and the times that he would have lived. But it was not enough, as there was also a superstition issue, he explained. His two friends, crime writers too, JeanClaude Izzo and Manuel Vázquez Montálban, who wanted to get rid of their characters, had died before them in the end. So “I came up with another idea“:

“I wrote the end ten years ago – the writer revealed surprisingly – I found the solution I liked and I wrote it straight away, you never know if Alzheimer then comes. Therefore,  fearing Alzheimer I preferred to immediately write the ending. The thing that makes me smile most is when I hear that the manuscript is kept in the publisher’s safe … It is simply kept in a drawer.”

He then added:

“Montalbano will end, when I end, only then the last book will come out. What I can say is that it is not so fiction , but rather metafiction where the Inspector talks to me and also to the other Montalbano, the TV one. »

When he was asked if he had planned to make Montalbano die in a shooting, he just said:

“Nothing like this will happen . Montalbano will not die. No autopsy. … He will go away, he will disappear but without dying.”

With these words we have a sample Maestro Camilleri’s craft in creating interest and suspance, as he mocks us pretending to spoil his finale providing his readers with some anticipations, but he is not. Montalbano will disappear without dying, where to? What does he mean? And, if he disappears, isn’t it like dying, after all? So, a day before being released, Riccardino is a hit already. I can imagine Camilleri sneer with satisfaction, while he is lighting one last cigarette.

Il telefono sonò che era appena appena arrinisciuto a pigliari sonno, o almeno accussì gli parse. ‘Riccardino sono’, disse una voce squillante e festevole, per dargli appuntamento al bar Aurora. Ma Montalbano non conosceva nessuno con quel nome… Un’ora dopo, la telefonata di Catarella: avevano sparato a un uomo, Fazio lo stava cercando. Inutilmente il commissario cercò di affidare l’indagine a Mimì Augello, perché gli anni principiavano a pesargli; aveva perso il piacere indescrivibile della caccia solitaria, insomma da qualichi tempo gli fagliava la gana, si era stuffato di aviri a chiffari coi cretini. Si precipitò sul posto, e scoprì che il morto era proprio Riccardino”. (Riccardino. Chpt. 1)


16 thoughts on “Riccardino

  1. What a tantalising beginning to Salvo’s last outing, and a mystery straight away: Montalbano “knew no-one with this name…” What a tease! Must do some catching up on his novels, I hadn’t got very far before I paused indefinitely. 😁

    • It is very frequent to find in Montalbano novels, expecially the most recent ones, the dream pattern either as premonition or to be interpreted in the Freudian way at the very beginning. I wonder how Sicilian sounds once translated into English or any other language. This is one of cases the translator has truly to make miracles to keep the same effect of the original text.

  2. Wow . . . I either lost a lot of my Italian (possible), or the style of writing has changed significantly since Altieri’s *Alla Fine Della Notte*, a book I still own and occasionally read to keep some practice with the language.

    I tried reading the excerpt at the end of your post and it took me three tries to get the gist of it (I hope). The first read-through was a bit like reading a drunk Yoda’s memoirs; I knew the words, but the style and arrangement made them nearly incomprehensible.

    I had to read them as a whole, guess what they might be trying to say in context, and then reread it to see if it made sense. Literally, ten+ minutes to go through it.

    I won’t be reading any of those books anytime soon (back to *Alla Fine Della Notte*, *Citta Oscura*, “Corridore Nella Pioggia*, and others . . . which is more the Italian I know).

    • 😂😂😂😂 The episodes of Moltalbano are written mostly in a sort of Sicilian dialect, the dialect of Vigata, which is the town the adventures of Commissario Montalbano take place, but since Vigata does not actually exist, even the language is a product of Camilleri’s craft. That is why many Italians dislike the reading of Montalbano and put the book back on the shelf after few pages, it is difficult to understand. “Arrinisciuto” “”pigliari” festevole” “principiavano”, for example, are in Italian : “riuscito”,” prendere”, “festoso”, “cominciavano”… bit if you keep reading Montalbano, it becomes fun to use his language. So don’t worry about your Italian, I’m sure it is excellent. 😜🙋

      • A sigh of relief on my part . . . I got pretty much most of the words but thought the language had changed and morphed to new words and diction (most of which I wasn’t happy with).

        Sad, I was, for I find Italian perfectly suited for some very expressively precise words evoking images and ideas that have no exact equals in English and none of these were such words. (To be fair, there are English words that have no direct Italian equivalent)

        Glad to hear I’ve not fallen that far behind the language curve.

        . . . and, being prone to make up my own English words, I can appreciate the craft if not the end result.

  3. What the… I have no idea about such an exciting event! Oh yes; then I had to be engaged for 😉 thank you, sweetheart, I hope I will find it in Netflix or on one of the German channel TV 🙏💖💖😘

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