Ottavio Cappellani
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Ottavio Cappellani (1969) is an author and journalist with a regular column on the Sicilia newspaper. He writes for several other Italian papers. He lives in Catania, Sicily, fronts a post-punk band, and cultivates carob trees and olives.


explaining sicily to eskimos, AND EVERYONE ELSE
explaining sicily to eskimos

An ancient land where many cultures clashed and mingled and still do. Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Italians, Spanish, Africans, refugees, the mafia, great artists and those who believe themselves to be great. Cappellani, Sicilian, with his brilliant acerbic wit explains the mysteries of this often seemingly insane and always beautiful island.

‘A journey through the cultural and sentimental secrets and treasures of the island, written with great feel for irony and the grotesque.’ Corriere della Sera

'Cappellani, a great visionary and indomitable spirit, in this book destroys with short strokes an impressive series of clichés. His is a counter-guide, where he distinguishes between ancestral heritage and everyday customs, between marketing and myth.' La Stampa

Cappellani enters the scene with all the biting spirit that characterizes him… He’s like Aristphanes and Plautus.’ La Sicilia

'It’s almost impossible to talk about ancient Sicily without resorting to stereotypes, it escapes us like a Fata Morgana mirage. Perhaps we can help overturn and break up these clichés with irony? This is the route taken in the short and entertaining Sicily Explained to the Eskimos by Ottavio Cappellani. The Catania writer's pen guides us on a surreal journey full of surprises, with some unforgettable images including: the real reason why Goethe appears in a night shirt on his arrival in ‘Magna Graecia’; the unexpected connection between the figures of the saints and manga; the strange case of the Palermo schnitzel. And a definitive truth: 'The Sicilian is not synthetic, just neurotic.’ La Repubblica


SEM Editrice Italy

Material: finished copies, PDF (128pp)

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"In Cappellani's world full of oxymorons and word games everything becomes spontaneous and fun" La Stampa

"Extraordinary originality" Panorama

"Cappellani is a great writer... In Sicilian Comedi he is back with his irreverent irony" Il Giornale de Sicilia

"There is the method in his madness, as Shakespeare would say if reading the last hilarious novel by Ottavio Cappellani, Sicilian Comedi... the Bard would have loved the way he oscillates between seriousness and humour in this tragicomedy that derides the mafia and the establishment equally." La Repubblica

‘Whenever Cappellani puts his hand to the saga of Lou Sciortino and other families of the Catania mafia, you get crazy laughs... a text that shines for themultitudeof inventions (not only in language)’ Il Mattino

Mix the following in equal parts: Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, The Wire, Shakespeare and Peter Sellers. Shake vigorously and serve with a side salad of the Baroque, and you have Ottavio Cappellani’s SICILIAN COMEDI.

Lou Sciortino, the heir of an Italian-American dynasty who has been recycling Mafia money in Hollywood, is forced to retire to Sicily. A war between various families and his grandfather broke out in Los Angeles, which resulted in Lou being seen as "a good person", a label he can’t live with. With him there is Leonard Trent, the director, screenwriter and producer of Starship Movies, whose films are increasingly delirious ("My films do not have to make money, they are used to recycle money, which - if you think about it - is the only Way to make True Art, my dear").

Observing Lou and Leo there is Peppino, a silent type with two great loves: the knife and literature.

In Catania, the three come into contact with a varied, humorous human fauna: designers and gangsters, metrosexuals in search of identity, dialect actors and killers, distressed politicians, fashionable writers, even more fashionable architects, very feminine females and a good number of bosses with different interests: from petroleum to the big business of 'fun'. But also with Tino Cagnotto, a gay, neorealist and avant-garde theatre director obsessed with Shakespeare and the Sicilian language. And above all they come into contact with Turrisi and Perrotta, the two mafia heads who perpetuate war between their families. At this time, however, their endless antipathy is suspended: "The tragic and ludicrous event, the natural disaster," as Perrotta calls his daughter Betty ("forty pounds of little tits and sandals") seems to have sorted her head out – or so it seems - and has just married Turrisi.

To counterbalance the unforgettable Betty is Mindy, a beauty of 'water and soap' with a passion for the rosary, nephew of Sal Scali, a second-tier Mafioso specializing in "haircuts and style." These leading ladies are on a collision course and, with the complicity of the epic Wanda and the unstoppable Countess, they create a stormy atmosphere in wild yet powerful Pyrotechnic Catania. Where, in the secret and sensual shadows of Baroque palaces, the ghost of Guglielmo Scrollalanza, known as William Shakespeare, roams.


SEM Editrice Italy

Material: finished copies, PDF, sample chapter in English (312pp)

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Balding, forty-something Mister Alfio Turrisi, an up-and-coming mafioso in Catania, has the deep pockets that London's financial world loves. He, in turn, loves Betty, the spoiled young daughter of Turi Pirrotta, a rival Catanian mobster. Alfio and Betty would seem to be the Romeo and Juliet of this poison-pen valentine to Ottavio Cappellani's native Sicily. That is, until we meet another pair of star-crossed lovers: gay theater director Tino Cagnotto and his bored and sexy young amore, Bobo. Because the way Tino sees it, the real heat in Shakespeare's tragedy is between Romeo and Mercutio, not Romeo and Juliet . . .

Set in a twenty-first-century Sicily rife with moody aristocrats, vain politicians, inept gangsters, shabby theater actors, and high-tech killers, Cappellani's hilarious second novel—part Tarantino-style operetta, part soap opera—is also a surprising tribute to the Bard.

“[An] irreverent and very funny new novel. Cappellani . . . generates full-throttle comedy with a bitter edge. It's only after the laughter stops that you smell the gunpowder.” —David Leavitt, The New York Times

“An exuberant crime novel with a plot as twisty, one might say, as a plate of linguini . . . a black comic explosion of plots and counterplots, murders and reprisals.” —John Powers, NPR's Fresh Air

“Sicilian Tragedee is a riotous and affectionate riff on Romeo and Juliet.” —Adam Woog, The Seattle Times

“Cappellani's second novel, a madcap comedy structured as a three-act play and set in contemporary Sicily, pays homage to Shakespeare and bristles with hilariously vulgar stabs at sex, art and family . . . The sheer energy and velocity of this merry farce will sweep readers away.” —Publishers Weekly


Mondadori Italy


Muza Poland

Rowohlt Germany

Seuil France

Cossee Holland

Material: finished copies, PDF of English (352pp)

who framed lou sciortino?
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Bestselling novel set in late ‘60s in Hollywood. His mafia boss grandfather wants Lou to be a good man, to end all the bloodshed. He sends him off to Los Angeles to make films. Films that won’t attract too much attention, films to launder money. Unfortunately the terrible Starship movies acquire a cult following and suddenly rival families want in on the action. It turns out it’s not so easy to be a good man after all. Lou wins but pays a very high price to do so.

‘Cappellani is the perfect writer’ Sherlock Holmes magazine


Mondadori Italy

Material: finished copies (300pp)

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The superb fictional debut of a Sicilian Roddy Doyle. When a policeman is murdered in the little shop owned by “Uncle Mimmo” (in truth, no-one’s uncle at all), the finger is pointed at Nick, a “neo-melodic” musician, whose band, Tears and Saints, have cornered the market in marriages, barbeques and ex-slave conventions (but in his heart Nick is a tough, glamorous rock star).

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, Lou Sciortino, grandson of the biggest and most envied boss of the Sicilian-American mafia in Los Angeles—who only wants Lou to be a really nice, decent person and concentrate on his job laundering the family money by producing the films of Leonard Trent (writer, director, actor and madman) – is about to find himself in a lot of trouble… When a bomb explodes in the offices of ‘Starship Movies’, Lou is sent back to safe Sicily to stay with family friends, because a really nice decent person doesn’t take part in mafia wars. But keeping his distance from his grandfather, the family, and all-out mafia war is as big a problem for Lou; as his love of gin. And then Lou is asked to investigate a strange musician named Nick and a murder in a small shop…

A novel in which your friends are not your friends, some killers are very glamorous in black Armani, grandfathers aren’t silly old men at all, hairstyles are explosions, nice decent people can still bring on the apocalypse, and the reader asks the question – can the inimitable Lou Sciortino negotiate countless party girls, coiffeurs, crazy actors, lunatic musicians, small shopkeepers, and Sicilian wives to solve the murder? This book is utterly unique: a beautifully written, witty, authentic and gripping novel that reveals how today’s mafia works.

‘Finally the post-modern and metropolitan Sicily of boys that look like bodyguards, dressed in striped suits, sunglasses and short hair, and of girls that look like disco dancers, has found it’s ideal chronicler… A completely exhilarating story.’ La Republica

‘BOOK OF THE WEEK – the Catania of this very funny mafia detective story is as rich as a millefeuille cake. Cappellani mixes Italian and Sicilian, he alternates gruesome killings and imaginary screenplays of tear-jerker movies… Lou Sciortino reminds you of Tony Soprano, Prozac in his pocket and the Godfather of Francis Ford Coppola in his heart.’ Panorama

‘A fun detective story that moves between the lights of via Etnea and small roads with dark shops. While a crossbow – the weapon for the first killing – is hidden under the counter, the director Leonard Trent, one of the many strange characters that live in the pages of this book, talks about the new ways for recycling money. Leonard talks to you in the same passionate tone that Fassbinder had when he spoke about Douglas Sirk… Brilliant dialogue. All the plot and rhythm of great cinema.’ Vanity Fair

‘Who is Lou Sciortino? is built as a movie and it has every possibility of becoming one. Cappellani’s Catania has the brutality of Quentin Tarantino and the trash of Pedro Almodovar… and it has the hybrid way of a post-modern Catania that Cappellani describes as an expert observer’. Corriere della Sera


Neri Pozza Italy


Picador UK

Editions Metailie France

Dom Quixote Portugal

Forum Sweden

Cappelen Norway

Tammi Finland

Gyldendal Denmark

Pendo Verlag Germany

Yilin Press China

Querido NL

Salamandra Spain & Latin America

Bjartur Iceland

Muza Poland

Laguna Serbia

Nova Fronteira Brazil

Ucila Slovenia

Partvonal Hungary

Al Arabi Egypt

Material: Finished copies of Italian (222 pages) PDF of English available