Giuseppe Di Piazza translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar

The Four Corners of Palermo

Publication Date: Oct 21, 2014

224 pp

Trade Paperback

List Price US $14.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 9781590516652


List Price US $14.95
ISBN: 9781590516669

A noir and sensual page-turner that cracks open the Mafia’s secret world through the stories of four lives

Palermo in the 1980s is a perfect place for a young crime reporter to get his start. The Sicilian Mafia is at work, threatening, wounding, and killing anyone who dares to defy their orders. Our protagonist is himself no angel, hardly compassionate, a bit macho and egocentric, but candid in his recounting of what has unfolded in front of his eyes both on the job and in his private life.

Di Piazza, who is also a Sicilian journalist, tells his stories as if he were reporting actual events. His description of the tense bravado of a youth growing up in the midst of Mafia terror is strikingly acute.

Excerpt from The Four Corners of Palermo

“Cousin, you have to be a man. Either you come away with us immediately, you give up that buttana, and you do as the family says, or else …”

“Or else what, you piece of shit?”

Now they were about fifty feet apart, face-to-face. They’d grown up together: going to the same parties, the same baptisms, but with different destinies awaiting them.

Marinello wanted his freedom, and he was ready to kill for it.

“Or else what?”

“Or else I’ll shoot you here and now. You’re blood of my blood, and I’m not going to slit your throat in some ambush. I’m giving you a chance to defend yourself; we’re going to fight like men. We’ll see who can draw first and fire, but you still have a chance to choose: come with us and we’ll take you home.”

Neither of the two men had a gun in his hands yet. The yellowish glow of the streetlights illuminated the line of dumpsters, two charred automobile carcasses, stacks of fruit crates at the corner of Via Brancaccio and Corso dei Mille, where Piazza Scaffa began. From her seat in the Fiesta, Rosalba could make out the two silhouettes in the distance. The closer of the two was Marinello, farther off was the man who held their lives in the balance.

She saw a first flash of gunfire. Then a second one. In the course of a few moments, there were four flashes, then five. The two dark figures were hardly moving, as if neither one was trying to dodge the bullets. Marinello fell to his knees, and her heart stood still. She could no longer hear a thing; only her eyes were working now, focused on the other man approaching, dragging one leg and reaching around for something behind his back: the second gun. Everything started moving again, at twice normal speed.

“He’s about to shoot him in the head, he’s about to shoot him in the head.”

Rosalba moved quickly: she put the Fiesta in gear, gunned it around the barricade of dumpsters, and then accelerated hard, hurtling straight at the man moving closer to Marinello, forcing him to dive to the cement to keep from being hit by the oncoming car.



“Lyrical, philosophical writing.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Amusing and tragic…[Di Piazza’s] first foray into fiction is compelling and raw.” —Publishers Weekly

“Di Piazza gives us a terrific portrayal of the brutality of the Mafia.” —

“Like its namesake the Quattro Canti, The Four Corners of Palermo shows us the many faces of a city plagued by drugs, death and the Mafia. Facing violence on a daily basis and finding escape through friends and lovers, a twenty-three year-old crime reporter tries to make sense of the dark underbelly of a city of rare beauty. As Di Piazza observes, a canto is a corner in Palermo, but ‘it is also a song.'” —Ben Pastor, author of Lumen and A Dark Song of Blood

“Thrilling, terrifying, heartbreaking. A chronicle of youth, and love, in the shadow of the Palermo Mafia. Di Piazza bravely brings to life a world that most of us close our eyes to, and in the act, draws a portrait of the city as it truly is. A breathtaking book.” —Andrew Sean Greer, award-winning author of The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells and The Story of a Marriage

“I read to be transported, and Giuseppe di Piazza’s The Four Corners of Palermo did just that, to 1980s Sicily, in the middle of a gruesome Mafia war. What I didn’t expect was the sensuality of the writing, the lush descriptions of landscape, food, the young journalist’s loves and lusts, the ocean salt and the stark blue sky, juxtaposed against a dark carnival of violence and revenge.” —Lisa Brackmann, bestselling author of Hour of the Rat, Rock Paper Tiger, and Getaway

“Di Piazza recounts the people and the lives destroyed by violence with felicitous accuracy in his selection of details and psychological motivations, but he also gives us a vivid portrait of Palermo, lovely at times, like a postcard, with that climate, that light, that blue sea, and at other times a monstrous, alien city.” —Corriere della Sera

“A book written in two registers: on the one hand, pure noir, dramatically bound up with the story of Palermo, the city of a Mafia bloodbath in the 1980s, and on the other hand, a generational tale, young people chasing after their utopian dreams to the notes of Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.” —Giornale di Sicilia

“Four nested stories, like four movements of a symphony, where the allegro, the adagio, the grave, and the scherzo continually intermingle.” —Il Messaggero

“Written with…humor and sensitivity.” —L’Espresso
“Pure adrenaline.” —Il Tempo
“In a bloody Palermo, the sexual revolution is threatened by mafia violence.” —Il Sole 24 ore
“A generational portrait in four movements full of real people and strong sentiments.” —Panorama

“DiPiazza counts a war looked with disinterest by the rest of Italy.” —Nuova Sardegna
“In these stories marked by blood and love, the double soul of Sicily emerges with grace and passion.” —Corriere Fiorentino
“DiPiazza is to the novel as a velvet glove is to a Jaguar steering wheel.” —Gioia