Thursday, April 14, 2016

After Hannibal

After Hannibal is a 1996 novel by Barry Unsworth, loosely based on his attempts to live in the Italian countryside. He died there in 2012 at the age of 81. The book is a trip -a fun look at the interactions people have, the different perspectives and values they bring to a conversation, and the outcome of different values and cultures colliding.

from the back of the book:
Set in the beautiful landscape and rich history of Umbria, Italy, Booker Prize-winning author Barry Unsworth brings forth a witty and illuminating work of contemporary manners and morals. The region where Hannibal defeated the Romans is now prey to a different type of invasion: outsiders buying villas with innocent and not-so-innocent dreams. Among these clustered along one hillside road are the Greens, a retired American couple seeking serenity, and the Chapmans, a British couple whose dispute over a wall escalates into a feud of operatic proportions. Add to this mix a wily and corrupt British "biolding expert," Blemish, and a lawyer, Mancini, who practices subterfuge and plans his client's actions like military strategy, and you have a sharp, entertaining, and satisfying bittersweet work.
The NYT opens its review by calling it "a sad comedy of cheats and fools, a story of unbounded beauty and blighted hopes, of multiple and layered betrayals, "a regression of falsehoods and deceptions going back through all the generations to the original agreement, God's pact with Adam."" Kirkus Reviews closes by saying, "the exquisitely evoked Umbrian landscape that serves as backdrop for these petty squabbles and personal dramas is the real draw here."


  1. This books sounds interesting. I am going to keep my eyes open for it. happy new week. :) Erika

    1. I'd love to hear if you like it. It left me wondering if life in Italy is actually like this for foreigners. I wonder if foreigners here have so much trouble navigating local customs. I can't help but think we must look like a madhouse to anyone moving here who doesn't speak English.