By Michela Murgia
A winner of six major literary prizes, this rich and haunting novel examines the shadowy Sardinian figure of the Accabadora, exploring the boundaries between mercy-killing and murder.
Formerly beautiful and at one time betrothed to a fallen soldier, Bonaria Urrai has long held covenant with the dead. Midwife to the dying, easing their suffering and sometimes ending it, she is revered and feared in equal measure as the village's Accabadora.
When Bonaria adopts Maria, the unloved fourth child of a widow, she tries to shield the girl from the truth about her role as an angel of mercy. Moved by the pleas of a young man crippled in an accident, she breaks her golden rule of familial consent, and in the recriminations that follow, Maria rejects her and flees Sardinia for Turin. Adrift in the big city, Maria strives as ever to find love and acceptance, but her efforts are overshadowed by the creeping knowledge of a debt unpaid, of a duty and destiny that must one day be hers.
Accabadora has been awarded seven major literary prizes, including Italy's prestigious Premio Campiello. An exceptional English-language debut, it weaves a narrative of rare grace and subtlety into a sensual tapestry of local nuance, atmosphere and dialect.
Michela Murgia was born in Cabras, Sardinia, in 1972 and has worked as a religious studies teacher, a timeshare saleswoman and an administrator in a power plant. Accabadora firmly establishes her alongside Marcello Fois and Davide Longo at the forefront of a recent renaissance in Italian fiction.
Silvester Mazzarella is a translator of Italian and Swedish literature. He learned English from his mother, Italian from his father, and Swedish while teaching at the University of Helsinki. He now lives in Canterbury.
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- Publication date:
29 Sep 2011
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'Murgia, I have to say, is excellent at giving her readers a taste of that rural, unhurried life ... And because I found her style captivating, I was captivated by even the simplest of things. 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. Highly recommended' Bookbag. — Bookbag
'The award winning Accabadora is an exceptional English-language debut, written with an intriguing subtlety to reflect a sensual atmospheric picture of local Italian life and death in villages during the 1950's. A time where family ties and obligations still decide much of life's ebb and flow. A must read for those who love a touch of the unusual' Female First. — Female First
'The prose is precisely crafted, sometimes poetically beautiful ... there is much in this novel that is humane, poetic and deeply moving' Historical Novels Review. — Historical Novels Review
'MacLehose Press [...] have hit aces yet again with this delicate gem ... With Accabadora, Signorina Murgia has penned a powerful and at times genuinely spellbinding piece of work' Billy O'Calllaghan, Irish Examiner. — Irish Examiner
'A real gem ... Beautifully written ... Wonderfully well evoked ... It reminded me a little of the Tiger's Wife' Liz Jensen, Radio Four. — Radio Four
'Incredibly moving ... I really enjoyed it' Miranda Sawyer, Radio Four. — Radio Four