The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa

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Damn, what a good read. The language is rich, the observations profound and timeless, and the book’s provenance is impeccable: written by a minor Italian aristocrat who did nothing much else of note in his life, the novel was published posthumously in 1958 and must be the best translated historical novel of modern times. It tells the story of the decline of the last Sicilian aristocratic house and its wise but ironic prince, the leopard. It is Shakespearean in its themes, intelligence and at times playfulness. It took me a while to get used to its richness of language, but by the end I was in tears, literally. Wise, funny, relevant and moving. This is how you do literature.

No. 20 of 100 books I intend to read and review in 2019.

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Patrick Sherriff publishes a monthly newsletter highlighting good fiction about Japan and featuring an original painting or sketch. He lives in Abiko, Japan, with his wife and two daughters.