Ten stories of impoverished Sicilian women in the early 20th century—"honed, polished, devastatingly direct . . . verismo at its unsentimental best" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Sicilian writer Maria Messina's captivating and brutal stories of the women of her home island are presented in a "lyrical and immediate" English translation by Elise Magistro (Publishers Weekly).
Messina, who died in 1944, was the foremost female practitioner of verismo—the Italian literary realism pioneered by fellow Sicilian Giovanni Verga. Published between 1908 and 1928, Messina's fiction represents the massive Sicilian immigration to America occurring at that time.
The individuals in these stories are caught between the traditions they respect and a desire to move beyond them. Women are shuttered in their houses, virtual servants to their families, left behind while working men immigrate to the United States in fortune-seeking droves. A cultural album that captures the lives of peasant, working-class, and middle-class women, "Messina's words will leave their mark. Their power makes them impossible to forget" (The Philadelphia Inquirer).