In the Sicily of the ’50s, still haunted by memories of Fascism and the war, Giuseppe Tomasi, the last Prince of Lampedusa, struggles to complete the novel that will be his lasting legacy, The Leopard.
In 1943, an Allied bomb destroyed the Lampedusa palace in Palermo; in 1955, Giuseppe Tomasi is diagnosed with advanced emphysema. Shortly after, profoundly aware of his mortality, he begins work on a novel, imagining the life of his great-grandfather Don Giulio, astronomer prince and head of the family at the time of the Risorgimento.
Giuseppe Tomasi is a veteran of the previous war, while his wife Alessandra – ‘Licy’ – a Baltic German aristocrat, now lives in exile, after her native Latvia was absorbed into the Soviet Union. The childless couple are survivors of a vanishing world of European aristocracy, living in the present yet profoundly aware of the past. Steven Price takes us into the mind of the writer, his memories of war and loss, his complex relationships with his family, and inhabits the heart of a man facing down the end of his life and the end of his line, struggling to make something of lasting worth while there is still time.
Achingly haunting and beautifully conceived, Steven Price’s Lampedusa tells the intensely moving story of one man’s awakening to the possibilities of life, as he nears its end.
In the media
So vivid and true . . . Lampedusa is a beautiful novel, lyrical and wise. Reading it made me feel both melancholy and uplifted.
David Gilmour, author of The Last Leopard, A Life of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa Financial Times
Lampedusa is one of the most powerful depictions of the creative act, and its roots in the wounds of the soul, that a reader is likely to encounter . . . Lampedusa is a marvel, a strange, wonderful, and utterly unforgettable book.
More striking than the biographical accuracy or even the intricate scaffolding of the story is the texture of images by Price, also a poet. Their beauty casts the same spell as his sensualist subject and the unhurried pleasure of experiencing them.
The Globe and Mail
Steven Price powerfully imagines Tomasi’s final days as the ailing author struggles to complete and publish his treasured manuscript. Set in a post war Palermo of bombed-out buildings and ruined palazzos, the novel contemplates what values are worth retaining in life and in art. A masterful storyteller, Price conjures Tomasi with language and images that evocatively fix him and his distant world indelibly in our minds.
Jury Citation, Scotiabank Giller Prize