The summer of Catania bookstores speaks Sicilian and smells of Marsala, with the Trapanese Stefania Auci who is the master, with the volume “The winter of the Lions” which continues the successful saga of the Florio family, after the success of “I Leoni of Sicily “. As the review of the volumes describes, “in the Florio cellars, a poor wine – Marsala – is transformed into a nectar worthy of a king’s table”.
During the second summer of Pandemic, the book market continued to grow, so much so that for the Italian Publishers Association, the national figure for 2021 sees the sale of books of all kinds, including online and physical bookstores and large-scale distribution. , soar with a plus 44% compared to 2020. Yes, but not in Catania, where things are not exactly so bright: “There was certainly an increase in sales during the Covid period in general – explains Iolanda Cuscunà, bookseller for twenty years at the Cavallotto bookstores in Corso Sicilia, as well as in charge of the ‘Fiction, Non-fiction, Sicily, Latest News’ department – even if, unfortunately, the greatest demand sees Sicily and Etna readers always a bit queuing up for what concerns the so-called ‘strong readers’. Then follow the rising sales in our Cavallotto bookstores “Sicilia” and “Ionio” of the Ubik circuit, by another emerging Sicilian writer, Cristina Cassar Scalia originally from Noto, with the titles ‘The ascent of the Saponari’ and ‘L’ man of the port ‘, novels where Sicily is always central “. Can you tell us the ranking of the best-selling books and tastes in the province of Catania? How much then did the Pandemic influence the book market and the tastes of readers? “Since the second volume of Auci, ‘The Winter of the Lions’, which continues the Florio saga, this novel has certainly risen in the rankings. In the first place we certainly find the Auci, especially for us Sicilians, but not only. For critics and readers, it is a family saga that fascinates, also for the setting in Sicily, because in this novel you can find everything: scents, images, sounds, suggestions of an island, historically disputed, starting from Bourbon and to end with Garibaldi and the Savoy. Then came the winner of the Strega literary prize, which for 2021 went to Emanuele Trevi with his ‘Two lives’: the winning writer always goes in the rankings; then we have the French Perrin Valerie, the writer of records author of ‘Changing the water to flowers’, who returned to the bookstore with “Tre”, a story of friendship, love, search for identity and full of mysteries, from we have been well positioned for several weeks “. “Following the sales in our Catania bookstores Cavallotto, success among readers was the last book of the writer Simona Lo Iacono, from Syracuse, with her latest novel ‘The Tiger of Noto’, which tells of Anna Maria Ciccone, a scientist who lived in a hostile era, a time of prejudice: born in Noto in 1891, she arrived in Pisa shortly before the Great War broke out to study physics, the only woman in her course, then she taught at the Normale and today we would say that she imposed herself in a world male. Another writer requested in the bookstore is Catena Fiorello, from Catania and sister of the well-known showman Rosario: in her latest novel ‘Five women and an arancino’, we read about a woman who, after the death of her husband, decides to leave Milan to return to his homeland, the remote Sicilian village of Monte Pepe “. In general, in times of Covid, “already from 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, bookstores were considered essential goods, so we remained open for almost the entire period of the lockdown and this allowed many people to rediscover the pleasure of come to the bookshop as an almost ‘therapeutic’ moment, not only to have an almost ‘physical’ confrontation with the bookseller, which could represent an escape from closure, but also to find a book that could serve as a bit of a ‘drug’ for the soul, in such a difficult and strange moment. So we found customers who over time for various reasons, also due to the parallel online market which has always been a very strong competition, had broken away from us “. Did the reader at the time of Covid change the type of books? For example, he focused on the prophetic volume “Spillover”; rather than Stephen King’s apocalyptic novel “The Shadow of the Scorpion,” which deals with a bacteriological weapon that escaped human control from US government laboratories: a virus, with the lethal mutation of the flu agent. Books that anticipate reality … “Yes, Covid, in part, has oriented the tastes of the reader; but up to a certain point. ‘Spillover’ for example, written by David Quammen, was an international ‘literary case’. It certainly dominated it, immediately after the pandemic began, even if it was a book already released in 2012, and therefore it was already known. Even today it continues to be sold, as an almost prophetic reference text, for those readers who previously did not know it. The writer and researcher anticipates very current topics: bats, and other animals, such as mosquitoes or chimpanzees, can be the vector of the next pandemic, or of dormant viruses, transmissible to humans … well it has had a certain hold on our customers “. “But otherwise, people have relied heavily on the advice of us booksellers. In the strongest and most intense period of the pandemic, in full lockdown, we in the sales sector, however, have always tried to orient readers towards ‘evasion’ books; that would allow to lighten the tension in progress, between masks and spacing. Following, for example, Italo Calvino, for whom the alleged ‘lightness’ does not correspond to ‘stupidity’: a lightness that enriches and allows you to find yourself, in a moment in which to get lost … it takes little! And so we also recommended some classics like the writer Calvino himself, who in this sense remains a point of reference. We recommended a lot, even Sicilian literature ”. Finally, “on Stephen King, as with the ‘Shadow of the Scorpion’ published in 1978, yes too, it always sells; also in this case, a virus is a negative protagonist for humanity, due to a lethal mutation of the flu agent. But people were asking for lightness: more than the raw thriller, the better the ‘yellow’ or the ‘historical novel’. In fact we have sold very well historical novels, with characters such as Costanza D’Altavilla as protagonists; a character full of charm, which literature has helped to mythologize, a Costanza d’Altavilla, queen of Sicily and empress of the Holy Roman Empire, who owes much of her fame to her son, that Frederick II, protagonist in the thirteenth century, of the long and bloody struggles between empire and papacy “. Why choose the bookseller “near the house”, rather than buying on the Internet? “We have added value. Booksellers offer ‘quality’ service and advice. During the ‘red zone’ period, each of us always found material to recommend, with great pleasure because this is our job and it is the best part of what we do every day, among the books. Even during the past total closure lockdown, there was such a request, which prompted us to activate a customer support network, which was as wide as possible, making us available via Whatsapp and all other social channels, and even in that period in which we were closed, last year, we always made ourselves ready and delivered the requested volumes, right up to the home. And this, I think, was an important thing “.
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