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The expression 'Sicilian uncle' has the same sense in Italian as 'Dutch uncle' does in English, but with sinister overtones of betrayal and inconstancy. The four novellas in Sicilian Uncles (1958) political thrillers of a kind - are the first fruits of Sciascia's maturity. In these stories, illusions about ideology and history are lost in mirth, in suffering, and innocence is abandoned. Each novella has its historical moment: the Allied invasion of Sicily, the Spanish Civil War, the death of Stalin, the 'events' of 1948. These occasions and their consequences are registered in the lives of Sciascia's wonderfully drawn characters. Each has voice, wit, and a private history which open out onto the wider circumstances of his time, and hint towards the later work of Sciascia.