100 books like A Feast of Narrative

By Tiziano Thomas Dossena (editor), Dominic Anthony Campanile (illustrator),

Here are 100 books that A Feast of Narrative fans have personally recommended if you like A Feast of Narrative. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Christ Stopped at Eboli: The Story of a Year

Roland Merullo Author Of Dessert with Buddha

From my list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction.

Who am I?

My twenty novels tend to focus on characters who face great challenges, and I have a particular appreciation for beautiful prose. I don’t read for distraction or entertainment, but to be enlightened, moved, and made more compassionate about different kinds of people in different environments.

Roland's book list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction

Roland Merullo Why did Roland love this book?

It’s a beautiful memoir by a Jewish doctor/painter/political activist who was sent into exile by Mussolini for his anti-fascist political activism. It’s deeply heartfelt and gorgeously written as Levi gets to know the extraordinarily poor peasants of a tiny village in interior southern Italy.

I love all things Italian and so it speaks to me, but I also have a great deal of compassion for the have-nots of this world. Levi describes them with wonderful sympathy and respect (at the same time sharply criticizing the petty bureaucrats and the puffed-up local officials).

By Carlo Levi, Frances Frenaye (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Christ Stopped at Eboli as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'There should be a history of this Italy, a history outside the framework of time, confining itself to that which is changeless and eternal, in other words, a mythology. This Italy has gone its way in darkness and silence, like the earth, in a sequence of recurrent seasons and recurrent misadventures. Every outside influence has broken over it like a wave, without leaving a trace.'

So wrote Carlo Levi - doctor, painter, philosopher, and man of conscience - in describing the land and the people of Lucania, where he was banished in 1935, at the start of the Ethiopian war,…


Book cover of Siciliana: Studies on the Sicilian Ethos and Literature

Joseph L. Cacibauda Author Of Not for Self: A Sicilian Life and Death in Marion

From my list on Sicilian Italian history and the people.

Who am I?

I grew up in New Orleans around Cajun French and Italians. My father spoke Cajun French, English, and Sicilian. I grew up thinking his Sicilian was Italian mixed with Cajun French. We considered ourselves Italian, never aware that my grandparents, paternal and maternal, emigrated from Sicily and were born just after Sicily became part of Italy (1861). Knowing nothing of Sicily, including the Sicilian spelling of my own surname and my father’s Sicilian first name, I used the computer to contact distant relatives in Sicily, discover records online, and eventually visited Sicily to find actual documents. My research led to my passion and my first book, After Laughing Comes Crying.

Joseph's book list on Sicilian Italian history and the people

Joseph L. Cacibauda Why did Joseph love this book?

Dr. Gaetano Cipolla is the retired head of the Foreign Language Department at St. John’s University, New York. He has spent his academic career researching and writing about the Sicilian culture and its people in order to counteract the stereotypical image of Sicilians and Italians as primarily spaghetti eaters and mafia. Dr. Cipolla understands the many dialects of the Sicilian language and, through his writings, has reclaimed the literary greatness of forgotten Sicilian writers by translating their poetry and other works. To overcome the pending extinction of Sicilian, he has written and developed a two-part course that teaches the language. His course is steadily being adopted in a number of universities

By Gaetano Cipolla,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Siciliana as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is revised and expanded edition of Sicilian: Studies on the Sicilian Ethos. It contains 4 new chapters and a new index of names. Eight chapters are devoted to the characteristics of Sicilians, their history, and their culture. The other 8 are devoted to the literature produced by writers and poets of Sicily, including Veneziano, Meli, Martoglio, Pirandello and Camilleri.


Book cover of A Hidden Sicilian History

Joseph L. Cacibauda Author Of Not for Self: A Sicilian Life and Death in Marion

From my list on Sicilian Italian history and the people.

Who am I?

I grew up in New Orleans around Cajun French and Italians. My father spoke Cajun French, English, and Sicilian. I grew up thinking his Sicilian was Italian mixed with Cajun French. We considered ourselves Italian, never aware that my grandparents, paternal and maternal, emigrated from Sicily and were born just after Sicily became part of Italy (1861). Knowing nothing of Sicily, including the Sicilian spelling of my own surname and my father’s Sicilian first name, I used the computer to contact distant relatives in Sicily, discover records online, and eventually visited Sicily to find actual documents. My research led to my passion and my first book, After Laughing Comes Crying.

Joseph's book list on Sicilian Italian history and the people

Joseph L. Cacibauda Why did Joseph love this book?

Ettore Grillo is a retired criminal attorney from Enna, Sicily, who spends his time writing and traveling. This is the second edition of his first book. I am drawn to historical fiction and creative fiction writing. They are wonderfully entertaining ways to learn about cultures and history within the story’s setting and plot. Grillo teaches about life in Enna, Sicily including the feasts, the traditions, and the people who are held together by customs while trying to solve a family mystery. 

By Ettore Grillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Hidden Sicilian History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is there life after death? A Hidden Sicilian History: Second Edition presents an intriguing and easy-to-read historical novel that starts with the investigation of a mysterious death.

While doing research in the public library in Enna, Sicily, a young man notices an ancient scroll has drifted from a shelf onto the floor. It appears to have slipped from a gap between two volumes about the Spanish Inquisition.

Though he expects it to be related to life in Sicily at the time of Spanish rule, instead the handwritten scroll reports a singular drama that was performed on the stage of the…


Book cover of Ameri-Sicula: Sicilian Culture in America

Joseph L. Cacibauda Author Of Not for Self: A Sicilian Life and Death in Marion

From my list on Sicilian Italian history and the people.

Who am I?

I grew up in New Orleans around Cajun French and Italians. My father spoke Cajun French, English, and Sicilian. I grew up thinking his Sicilian was Italian mixed with Cajun French. We considered ourselves Italian, never aware that my grandparents, paternal and maternal, emigrated from Sicily and were born just after Sicily became part of Italy (1861). Knowing nothing of Sicily, including the Sicilian spelling of my own surname and my father’s Sicilian first name, I used the computer to contact distant relatives in Sicily, discover records online, and eventually visited Sicily to find actual documents. My research led to my passion and my first book, After Laughing Comes Crying.

Joseph's book list on Sicilian Italian history and the people

Joseph L. Cacibauda Why did Joseph love this book?

Mark Hehl gathered a bunch of Sicilian American writers to contribute pieces about their remembrances of their grandparents, those 1st or 2nd waves of immigrants that came to this country. American readers can relate better to the settings of Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Boston, and New Orleans than to the small Sicilian villages like Bisacquino, Sant’Anna, Chiusa Sclafani, the towns from which many immigrants embarked, and the towns from which these customs were carried into American cities.

By Mark Hehl (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ameri-Sicula as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The volume is a collaborative effort by twenty-eight talented writers to describe their Sicilian culture while living in the United States. Each contributor offers interesting personal insights in what it meant for him/her to grow up in a Sicilian environment while navigating through the difficulties posed by the encounter with the American way of life.


Book cover of On Persephone's Island: A Sicilian Journal

Susan Van Allen Author Of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

From my list on women who love Italy.

Who am I?

I am grateful to my maternal grandparents, immigrants from southern Italy, who instilled in me a love for the Bel Paese that has inspired me all my life. I began to travel to Italy 45 years ago, and after writing for television—on the staff of Everybody Loves Raymond—I turned to travel writing. I’ve written 4 books about Italian travel, along with many stories for magazines. I also design and host Golden Weeks in Italy: For Women Only tours, to give female travelers an insider’s experience of this extraordinary country.

Susan's book list on women who love Italy

Susan Van Allen Why did Susan love this book?

This memoir of a Sicilian year beautifully weaves together Simeti’s personal experience in rural Sicily and Palermo with her extensive knowledge of history, mythology, and culinary traditions. Simeti’s honesty truly prepared me for my first trip to Sicily – giving me a full picture of the island’s light and dark sides. 

By Mary Taylor Simeti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Persephone's Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a year of Sicilian life, its seasons and its sacred festivals, its gorgeous fruits and demanding family life, its casual assassinations and village feasts, its weather and the neighbours. It chronicles a life divided between an apartment in the city of Palermo with the weekends and summer devoted to sustaining life in an old family farm. What makes this journal truly exceptional is that Mary Simeti is both an outsider, (an American who had studied medieval history and worked as a volunteer on a social welfare programme) and an insider. For this journal was written after twenty years…


Book cover of The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

Sue Harrison Author Of The Midwife's Touch

From my list on historical stories to fly you into fantasy.

Who am I?

I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a backwoods wilderness area. My parents believed in education and immersed us in the fantastic and multifarious world of books. At age ten I decided I would become a novelist. In my thirties I wrote my first novel—Mother Earth Father Sky, a tapestry of history, legends, and fantasy based on the ancient Aleut culture of Alaska. Mother Earth Father Sky, and several of its sequels, became international bestsellers. I still live in the Upper Peninsula, and I still write books that celebrate the surreptitious and exuberant ties between history and fantasy. 

Sue's book list on historical stories to fly you into fantasy

Sue Harrison Why did Sue love this book?

Juliet Grames used her grandmother’s life in early twentieth-century Italy as a foundation for this novel about two sisters—Stella and Tina. Everyday things in their Italian village erupt into life-threatening situations that Stella somehow survives until even her mother believes she must be a source of curses. Stella’s father, Antonio, continually denigrates the women in his life, but still, Stella thrives and does all she can to protect her sister. Through personal experience, I understand how misogyny can destroy a woman’s self-worth. The beauty of fantasy and Stella’s unwavering determination combine to make Grames’s novel a beacon of hope for abused women. 

By Juliet Grames,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'You don't read this book, you live it' Erin Kelly

'Holds the reader under a spell from start to finish' O, the Oprah Magazine

'If you're going through Elena Ferrante withdrawals, this is the book for you' Harper's Bazaar

If Stella Fortuna means 'lucky star,' then life must have a funny sense of humour.

Everybody in the Fortuna family knows the story of how the beautiful, fiercely independent Stella, who refused to learn to cook and who swore she would never marry, has escaped death time and time again.

From her childhood in Italy, to her adulthood in America, death…


Book cover of Margaret, Queen of Sicily

Louis Mendola Author Of The Kingdom of Sicily 1130-1860

From my list on insight into the history and society of southern Italy.

Who am I?

Often, historians choose their field or specialty, but sometimes, the field chooses the historian. Being a historian of southern Italy, the land of my ancestors reflects far more than a merely academic interest. As a personal pursuit, it isn’t just what I am but who I am. I write the kind of books that I wish had existed when I wrote my first peer-reviewed article in 1984. This has come to include everything from general histories to specialised studies to translations of medieval chronicles. Through the website Best of Sicily, online since 1999, my work has reached a readership of millions over the course of two decades.

Louis' book list on insight into the history and society of southern Italy

Louis Mendola Why did Louis love this book?

The most powerful woman in Europe for at least five years, Margaret of Navarre, was all but ignored until this 512-page biography appeared. Reading a “secret” story drawn from original sources in Italy and Spain was part of the book’s appeal for me.

Born near Pamplona in 1135 to a descendant of El Cid, Margaret wed William I, son of Roger II, first King of Sicily. Following her husband’s death, she was queen regent for a young son, William II, for five eventful years. Ruling two million in a multicultural realm that encompassed Sicily and almost half of the Italian peninsula, she undertook all kinds of decisions, some with Roger’s widow and other women.

True feminism.

By Jacqueline Alio,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Margaret, Queen of Sicily as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sometimes it takes just one strong woman to tame a pack of zealous men. Meet Margaret of Sicily.

For five years during the twelfth century, Margaret of Navarre, Queen of Sicily, was the most powerful woman in Europe and the Mediterranean. Her life and times make for the compelling story of a wife, sister, mother and leader. This landmark work is the first biography of the great-granddaughter of El Cid and friend of Thomas Becket who could govern a nation and inspire millions.

In Margaret's story sisterhood is just the beginning. The Basque princess who rose to confront unimagined adversity…


Book cover of The Muslims of Medieval Italy

Sarah Davis-Secord Author Of Where Three Worlds Met: Sicily in the Early Medieval Mediterranean

From my list on medieval Sicily.

Who am I?

Like many travelers and writers, I was drawn to the Mediterranean Sea because of its vibrant cultures, sun-drenched landscapes, and delicious foods. As a medieval historian, I am attracted to stories of people and cultures in communication with each other across religious and cultural divides. I found the perfect combination in the history of Sicily, which in the Middle Ages had populations of Greek Christians, Latin Christians, Muslims, and Jews living together in both peace and conflict. I study the histories of travel, trade, and exchange in and around Sicily, which allows me to think about big questions of how medieval people related to each other even when they came from different religions or cultures.

Sarah's book list on medieval Sicily

Sarah Davis-Secord Why did Sarah love this book?

The thing that first drew me to medieval Sicily was its history of Muslim habitation.

I am deeply interested in questions of how Muslims, Christians, and Jews interacted with each other during a period of history in which religious identity was one of the most prominent public facts about a person and their community.

Alex Metcalfe is one of the leading scholars studying the Arabic texts that give us insight into the cultures of Muslims in Sicily and southern Italy and their legacies after the Norman conquest of an island that had been in Muslim hands for nearly two centuries. He has written several other works, but this is the one most accessible to a general audience, and the one that covers both Sicily and the southern parts of the mainland that were also strongly impacted by Muslim presence and culture.

By Alex Metcalfe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Muslims of Medieval Italy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This significant new work focuses on the formation and fragmentation of an Arab-Muslim state and its society in Sicily and south Italy between 800 and 1300, which led to the formation of an enduring Muslim--Christian frontier during the age of the Crusades. It examines the long- and short-term impact of Muslim authority in regions that were to fall into the hands of European rulers, and explains how and why Muslim and Norman conquests imported radically different dynamics to the central Mediterranean. On the island of Sicily, a majority Muslim population came to be ruled by Christian kings who adopted and…


Book cover of Seeking Sicily: A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean

Anika Scott Author Of Sinners of Starlight City

From my list on sparking an obsession with Sicily.

Who am I?

I’ve been a traveler and a dreamer ever since I was a little girl. I used to write to the tourism bureaus of different countries and tape pictures of faraway places onto the walls of my bedroom. It’s no surprise I ended up living in Europe, my home base for excursions all over the world. My historical fiction always features places that mean a lot to me, whether it’s Germany (where I live now), or Sicily – where my mother’s family came from. Digging into my Sicilian heritage and the culture and life of the island for my third novel was like discovering a new home.

Anika's book list on sparking an obsession with Sicily

Anika Scott Why did Anika love this book?

Sicily is part of my family’s heritage, and back when they emigrated to America, they left a lot of their language and culture behind or didn’t pass it down to the next generation.

Seeking Sicily fills in some of those blanks in my family’s cultural history. It does what I haven’t been able to do, roam around the island meeting many different people and asking about everything from food to religious rituals to life amid the ruins of old palaces and ancient monuments.

It’s a really intimate book that still gives a great overview of Sicilian life.

By John Keahey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seeking Sicily as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sicily has a timeless allure, and much of what one sees there today has changed little over the centuries. With Sicily's literary greats as a guide, Keahey discerns what lies behind the soul of its inhabitants, touching on history, archaeology, food, art, and politics. He looks to contemporary Sicilians who have never shaken off the influences of their forbearers, who believed in the ancient gods & goddesses; and who have always come under the thumb of outsiders. Most importantly, he will explore the Mediterranean's largest and most mysterious island through the eyes of a visitor - making this book a…


Book cover of Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia

Anika Scott Author Of Sinners of Starlight City

From my list on sparking an obsession with Sicily.

Who am I?

I’ve been a traveler and a dreamer ever since I was a little girl. I used to write to the tourism bureaus of different countries and tape pictures of faraway places onto the walls of my bedroom. It’s no surprise I ended up living in Europe, my home base for excursions all over the world. My historical fiction always features places that mean a lot to me, whether it’s Germany (where I live now), or Sicily – where my mother’s family came from. Digging into my Sicilian heritage and the culture and life of the island for my third novel was like discovering a new home.

Anika's book list on sparking an obsession with Sicily

Anika Scott Why did Anika love this book?

I’m a fan of gangster books and movies, but there’s nothing quite like learning about the real brutality and power of the original Sicilian mafia.

Dickie’s book takes a historical view, showing why that kind of organization developed in Sicily of all places, and how the Sicilians have protected it, and fought against it. The anecdotes are sometimes funny and sometimes truly chilling.

If you’re as interested in the history of organized crime as I am, this is a must read.

By John Dickie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cosa Nostra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed in Italy as the best book ever written about the mafia in any language, Cosa Nostra is a fascinating, violent, and darkly comic account that reads like fiction and takes us deep into the inner sanctum of this secret society where few have dared to tread.In this gripping history of the Sicilian mafia, John Dickie uses startling new research to reveal the inner workings of this secret society with a murderous record. He explains how the mafia began, how it responds to threats and challenges, and introduces us to the real-life characters that inspired the American imagination for generations,…


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