Mario Puzo’s THE SICILIAN: Deep Ideas Behind Crime Fiction


I have just finished reading THE SICILIAN, a novel by Mario Puzo. He is the Italian-American author who wrote THE GODFATHER, the novel that was transformed to the best movie in history.

I’d like to say he is my favorite author ever. His novels have the best plots. And he has the best style I have ever read.

I believe I should compare THE SICILIAN to THE GODFATHER. Both of them have the great style of showing how those fearful gangsters and criminals feel and think. Those criminals, whom people think are made of stone, are at the end of the day human beings who have weaknesses and even might hide fragile personalities behind their outer appearances which frighten everybody. The reader feels as if he is inside the mind of each character and knows his ideas and feelings.

Also, both of the novels have a great feature which is explaining why and how events happen. Puzo does not only write events and describe places and characters; his style is characterized by showing why every character does an action.  A character won’t kill another one just for nothing, there must be a reason. It does not make a conspiracy for no reason. Puzo explains how each of his characters does a certain event. If a gangster assassinates an enemy, you don’t read the event only, you read how he has planned it, why he does each step in the plan, how he hides all evidences that show he has done it, how he overcomes obstacles and people that might prevent him from killing his enemy.

I believe both of the novels have a great well-knotted plot. But I still prefer the one of THE GODFATHER, as it is more complicated and full of more important and versatile events and characters. It also shows the great conflict inside Michael Corleone, who turns from a brave army soldier to the cruel boss of the biggest Mafia gang in USA. This does not mean THE SICILIAN is bad. It is very close to THE GODFATHER.

But what I believe THE SICILIAN is better at is the deep idea it has. When you read about gangsters and gangs, you might be looking for events, crimes and vengeance. But, THE SICILIAN is very deep. It tells that the destiny of Sicily is to live in chaos, crime and poverty. Any man who tries to change that will face a dreadful end.

It tells the story of Turi Guiliano, a young bandit in Sicily. But Sicily is full of bandits, what would make him different?!
Well, This man is the first bandit not looking for money, influence and personal interests. He is a bandit who wants to help people, who steals from the rich to give to the poor, and who assassinates people because they hurt other people. Although he is able to enjoy life, money and women, as he grows powerful, he refuses all of that just to help his fellow Sicilians. He changes the concept of Mafia. Other Mafia bandits try to show they are against the government, while they shake hands with it under the table. Whereas, Turi fights the government both in front of people and secretly, because he believes this corrupted government steals from and hurts people. He even starts to fight other Mafia bosses in the island because he wants to liberate Sicily from those monsters who control and humiliate Sicilians. At the end the Mafia and government unite just to fight this brave warrior.

As treachery runs in the blood of Sicilians, Turi fails eventually.

Most of Mafia and gangsters’ novels aim at showing the cruelty and intelligence of gangsters while whipping out their enemies. THE SICLIAN is different. It shows  a man pushed by destiny to be a bandit, just to do good things. It shows that destiny of some people is to live in injustice, regardless of how difficult they try to change their fate; an example is the destiny of Sicilians.