Leonardo Sciascia: A ciascuno il suo (A Man’s Blessing; To Each His Own)
This is one of Sciascia’s great novels, which takes the form of a detective novel but is, in fact, a political novel, attacking the corruption of the (then) ruling Christian Democrat party as well as the Mafia control of Sicily. In a small Sicilian town, Manno, the town pharmacist, receives a death threat, though he cannot think why. When he is out hunting with his friend, Dr. Roscio, the local optician, both men are killed. Professor Laurana, a single, middle-aged man who teaches history and literature and who was a friend of both men, decides to investigate. The first thing he notices is that the death threat letter used words from the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. The motto of the paper, clearly visible, is Unicuique Suum, meaning to each his own.
Laurana takes on the investigation as a matter of intellectual curiosity and, of course, sex and money soon turn out to be at the root of the crime. Firstly, he finds out that it was Roscio and not Manno who was the intended victim, the latter being a red herring as was, of course, the threatening letter. Then he finds out that a lawyer named Rosello, cousin of Roscio’s widow, mafioso and secretary of the local Christian Democrat party, is clearly implicated. In true Sciascia fashion, there is no happy ending, with the criminal getting his just deserts. Indeed, it seems that many in the town were at the very least aware of what was going on but kept quiet. It is Laurana that ends up the dupe and Laurana who pays the price for his naivety and faith in truth and justice.
For Sciascia, everyone who does not denounce the Mafia and their crimes is complicit and its is certainly the case here. Laurana may be naïve but he is right, while the rest of the town is, in Sciascia’s eyes, criminally wrong. However, while this book does make its political point, it is superbly well written and the story very well told, making it one of Sciascia’s best.
First published 1966 by Einaudi
First English translation in 1989 by Carcanet Press
Translated by Adrienne Foulke