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Accabadora Review Round-up

Billy O’Callaghan has reviewed Michela Murgia’s exquisite English-language debut in the Irish Examiner:

“MACLEHOSE Press, a publishing house devoted to uncovering unique and generally overlooked foreign voices for the English language market, have hit aces yet again with this delicate gem. Accabadora is Italian writer Michela Murgia’s third novel, but her first to receive an English translation


With Accabadora, Signorina Murgia has penned a powerful and at times genuinely spellbinding piece of work.

Over barely 200 pages, and set against a vivid rural backdrop, she explores such serious themes as euthanasia, child abuse, familial and romantic love, loyalty and forgiveness, the grief and release of death, and the many, many shades of morality.

The result is a truly admirable achievement: compact and elegant, rich in atmosphere, with fully developed characters that resonate at a deeply emotional level. Once it takes a full grip, this is a story that refuses to yield. It is also one which will linger a long while after the final page has been turned.” Read the full review.

Radio Four actually reviewed the book on the 17th of September, but we seem to have missed it then. Miranda Sawyer thought the book “incredibly moving”; she “loved it”. Novelist Liz Jensen was also a fan:

“A real gem . . . Beautifully written . . . brilliantly translated, there wasn’t a single sentence where you thought this is a novel in translation.  This is a translation by Silvester Mazzarella . . . Wonderfully well evoked . . . It reminded me a little of the Tiger’s Wife

Listen to the review here; it starts with a brief reading at about 12 minutes in.

Accabadora Blog-Review Round-up

Having been held up the announcement of the Lisbeth Salander Clothing Range and Anuradha Roy’s longlisting for the Man Asia Prize – not to mention an avalanche of desk editing – we now return to the round-up of early reviews for Accabadora with a rare five-star review from the Bookbag.

Murgia, I have to say, is excellent at giving her readers a taste of that rural, unhurried life. Not a great deal happens, to be honest but that only serves to give Murgia many opportunities to treat us to her lyrical prose about everyday life. And because I found her style captivating, I was captivated by even the simplest of things.

For example, there’s quite a lengthy piece devoted to the forthcoming marriage of Maria’s older sister, Bonacatta. Both families have arranged to meet but they are all on their best behaviour. You could also cut the atmosphere with a butter knife. The gifts were a sort of votive offering to the supine figure of the Madonna of the Assumption, not so much ornaments as items for barter …

I found this novel simply enchanting due to Murgia’s beautiful style of writing, even although some parts are truly shocking. This is a little gem of a book to be treasured and I fell under Murgia’s spell when reading it. The translation is also seamless – you wouldn’t guess that it was a translation in the first place. Highly recommended.

Read the full review at The Bookbag.

And an equally glowing review from translated-fiction champion Stuart J Allen on his Winstonsdad’s blog.

I could instantly see why this book won so many prizes. Michela has tackled euthanasia in such an even and non-judgemental way, one of the most even views of this subject I’ve ever read, I found it hard to imagine someone such as Bonaria being around Italy at the time the book is set but a little web browsing shows there were such people in real life, hard to think as Italy is such a strong Catholic country. The book deals with what family is to people and also how we all deal with death and the thought of a midwife of death as we brought into life by a women and thus should be seen into death by a women when needed. 

But also an underling theme to me is changing world of the traditional rural life and the busy modern cities of Turin, I remember the films of Italy at the time the book is set in the forties and fifties the neo realism movement films like Rome open city and Stromboli and felt this book would have made a great neo realism film the quality of realism that falls off the page would work so well on the screen and you could imagine real people in rural Sardinia maybe letting us into this traditional world that I knew little of myself. So if you after a touching page turner this is the book for you.

Read the full review on Winstonsdad’s blog.

Book Monkey’s Review Of Accabadora

We continue our round-up of blog reviews of the multi-awarding-winning masterpiece of Sardinan letters that is Accabadora with Emma Naomi Smith‘s review on her excellent and remarkably prolific BookMonkey blog.

Accabadora is Michela Murgia’s English-language debut (having been translated by Silvester Mazzarella), and it has already won seven major literary prizes, including Italy’s prestigious Premio Campiello. With such a wonderful title, and such high literary acclaim how could you not want to give this little 192-page novel a go?


For such a short novel, you can see that it raises some really important and rather heavy questions that are relevant even today let alone in 1950s Sardinia. Euthanasia is still a really controversial subject, and one that politicians and doctors will be arguing for and against for many years to come. It makes you question everything you believe and the real meaning of life and death, and whether we should be allowed the right to decide to if, generic viagra, viagra before and after, cialis, kamagra vs viagra, levitra side effects,

we should live or die.


I’d definitely recommend this novel to anyone looking for something a little bit different. I’ve never read anything like it before and I doubt I will again. Just saying the word ‘accabadora’ to myself, and feeling it roll over my tongue makes me want to read it all over again. How can you resist such a word?

Read the full review over at Book Monkey

Accabadora By Michela Murgia

This month we are publishing Accabadora, the second novel by the Sardinian writer Michela Murgia. Second and breakthrough novel, as Accabadora has won six literary prizes in Italy and sold over 350,00 copies there, as well as some 80,000 in Germany. All week we’ll be posting snippets from the blog reviews it has already attracted, along with an interview with the author.

First up is Rob of‘s “Forethoughts” – an ongoing series of first-look musings based on the cover art, the blurb and judicious googling.

Hand’s up, who knows what an accabadora is? I’d be impressed if you did know. I didn’t, but I soon found out when I picked up my lasted read which uses this word as its title. The meaning of accabadora is revealed in the cover blurb (see below). It’s definition ain’t pretty, but it’s one that’s sure to pique a lot of interest in the book. It certainly piqued mine, and I only got as far as the title. I’ve been hooked, so join me then as I dive a little deeper, and present my forethoughts on what potentially looks to be a very interesting novel.

Even before I begin reading Accabadora by Michela Murgia (MacLehose Press; translated by Silvester Mazzarella), I know I hold something special in my hand. In its native Italy, the novel has won six – count them: 1,2,3,4,5,6 – literary awards (including the prestigious Campiello Prize), so to ignore a book with such glowing accolades would be idiotic (people do though, as lovers of translated fiction know fine well). Actually, given that it has such a striking cover (designed by Monica Reyes. She seems to have used a simple patterned fabric but to great effect), Accabadora is impossible to ignore even without knowing that it’s a multiple prize winner. This is one which will definitely stand out on the bookshop shelves, you can be sure of that.

Publishing Partners: Giulio Einaudi Editore

In November, MacLehose Press will publish Accabadora by the Sardinian author Michela Murgia, acquired from the Turin-based publisher Einaudi. Accabadora has been a critical and commercial success in Italy and has won no fewer than six literary prizes, the most prestigious of them being the Premio Campiello. There seems to be a renewed confidence in homegrown Italian (as opposed to translated) fiction at the moment. Gomorra by Roberto Saviano and La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi by Paolo Giordano  both sold huge numbers of copies, and with  sales of 120,000 almost 250.000 copies in 2010, Accabadora looks to be continuing the trend.

Now a part of the Mondadori Group – by far the largest of Italian publishing conglomerates, with a market share of 28.4% – Einaudi was founded in 1933 by Guilio Einaudi in collaboration with a number of friends from the Liceo Classico D’Azeglio: Leone Ginzburg, Massimo Mila, Norberto Bobbio and Cesare Pavese. Italy was at that time controlled by the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, and Einaudi’s  father, Luigi, was the editor of Riforma Sociale, a liberal, anti- fascist magazine.

The first book published was a translation (undertaken by Luigi Einuadi) of Henry A. Wallace’s What America Wants. The book was trademarked by a image of an ostrich which was inherited from a magazine that Giulio Einaudi edited up until it was closed down by the  fascist authorities. The logo is used on Einaudi books to this day, and was actually first designed in 1574 when it adorned a volume detailing the military and amorous exploits of Paolo Giovio.

From the outset, Einaudi Editore’s publishing programme was as anti-fascist as it could be given the depredations of government censors, and when the Second World War came to an end, with Mussolini out of the  picture and democracy reinstated, they were in a position to provide Italy’s newly re-enfranchised citizens with the liberal and left-wing literature they craved. Luigi Einaudi was elected as the second President of the Italian Republic in 1948, and, with many publishing houses tainted by associations with the old regime, Giulio Einaudi assumed the role of elder statesman of the Italian literary world.

In the post-war era, Giulio Einaudi gave literary breaks some of Italy’s greatest writers: Elsa Morante, Italo Calvino and Primo Levi. Throughout the ’50s and  ’60s, they introduced iconic series of books including the “Nuovo Politecnico” list, which concentrated on short works that analyzed social and political issues in depth, and the “Collezione di poesia”, which published old masters alongside new voices. The 1970s saw the  publication of a six-volume history of Italy edited by Ruggiero Romano, 100,000 of which found a home on bookshelves up and down the country, as Einaudi continued to expand. They encountered financial difficulties in the 1980s, but by the 1990s investment in the acquisition of fiction from abroad brought Ian McEwan, Don DeLillo, Jose Saramago, Gunter Grass, Paul Auster, J.M. Coetzee and Ernest Hemingway to the list.

Throughout its history, Einaudi was known as an environment that fostered and harnessed creative tension: differences of opinion, often heated, were encouraged and were central to the publishing  process. Einaudi became part of the Mondadori Group in 1994, and its founder retired three years later, at the grand old age of eighty-five – although he continued to be an almost daily visitor to the Einaudi offices until his death in 1999.

Today Einaudi continues to be one of the outstanding Italian publishing houses. Over the next few years three further Einaudi authors will be published by MacLehose Press (and its not just one-way street, as Einuadi are the Italian publisher of Quercus’ The Blackhouse):  Marcello Fois, from Sardinia, who has won a number of prizes for his novel Memoirs of the Abyss; Andrea Bajani, who recently won the Bagutta Prize for Ogni Promessa (Every Promise); and Mariapia Veladiano, who won the Calvino Prize for La Vita Accanto (A Life Apart).We hope that it is a partnership that will continue for many years to come.