By Sarah Day
In 1939, a group of gay and bisexual men were rounded up and imprisoned on a tiny Italian island, their lives changed forever. Based on a true story of 1930s Italy, MUSSOLINI'S ISLAND is a powerful exploration of wartime life that will appeal to readers of EARLY ONE MORNING
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BETTY TRASK AWARD
SHORTLISTED FOR THE HWA DEBUT CROWN
LONGLISTED FOR THE POLARI FIRST NOVEL PRIZE
Sarah Day's MUSSOLINI'S ISLAND is a novel of sexuality and desire, of hidden passions and the secrets we keep locked within us. Based on the true story of the rounding up of a group of Sicilian gay men in 1939, this book is sure to appeal to readers of the Elena Ferrante novels, Anthony Doerr's ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE or Virginia Baily's EARLY ONE MORNING.
'A fascinating debut...the setting and characters are strong and the story is written with verve. Day is a talent to watch' - The Times
Francesco has a memory of his father from early childhood, a night when life for his family changed. From that night, he has vowed to protect his mother and to follow the words of his father: Non mollare. Never give up.
As Francesco is herded into a camp on the island of San Domino, he realises that someone must have handed a list of names to the fascist police. Locked in spartan dormitories, resentment and bitterness between the men grows each day.
Elena, an illiterate island girl, is drawn to the handsome Francesco. Sometimes, she is given a message to pass on. She's not sure who they are from; she knows simply that Francesco is hiding something. When Elena discovers the truth about the group of prisoners, the fine line between love and hate pulls her towards an act that can only have terrible consequences for all.
Sarah Day lives in London, where she works as a science communicator at the Geological Society. She has written columns for a variety of publications, including the Guardian and The Vagenda. After graduating with a Masters in the History and Philosophy of Science from Durham University, she studied Science Communication at Imperial College London. Mussolini's Island is her first novel.
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- Publication date:
27 Jul 2017
- Page count:
A fascinating debut...the setting and characters are strong and the story is written with verve. Day is a talent to watch — The Times
Startling. A compassionate and clear-eyed debut which illuminates a grim chamber of 20th century history — Patrick Gale, author of A PLACE CALLED WINTER
[An] impressive debut... Day handles her neatly structured plot with great dexterity as she nudges her readers, one revelation at a time, towards the truth about what has happened and about Francesco's hidden history — Sunday Times
Sarah Day's debut novel is striking: a fascinating evocation of a cruel time in Italian history — Amanda Craig
A beautiful and sadly relevant story of desire, oppression and defiance. I loved this book — Anna Mazzola, author of THE UNSEEING
Stunning... a wonderful haunting evocation of this forgotten and neglected story of war — Mary Chamberlain
A thoroughly absorbing and moving novel, one that convincingly illuminates a strange and largely forgotten aspect of life in Fascist Italy — Andrew Greig
Based on a true story, this is a haunting fictional account of oppression, survival and resilience and a powerful portrayal of sexuality and war — Attitude Magazine
Day's style reminds me of Somerset Maugham - the book is sexy, scary, enraging and beautiful - with a murder mystery at the centre that will keep you guessing — The Pool
A genuine standout amongst literary debuts. This complex, brave and powerful novel, both tender and hard-hitting, features fine writing and a transporting sense of place — Isabel Costello, The Literary Sofa
A complex, tender psychological love story, combined with a murder mystery that will keep you guessing — The Reith Lectures, Radio 4