Translated from the original Italian by Silvester Mazzarella
Formerly beautiful and at one time betrothed to a fallen soldier, Bonaria Urrai has long held covenant with the dead. Midwife to the dying, easing their suffering and sometimes ending it, she is revered and feared in equal measure as the village’s Accabadora. When Bonaria adopts Maria, the unloved fourth child of a widow, she tries to shield the girl from the truth about her role as an angel of mercy. Moved by the pleas of a young man crippled in an accident, she breaks her golden rule of familial consent, and in the recriminations that follow, Maria rejects her and flees Sardinia for Turin. Adrift in the big city, Maria strives as ever to find love and acceptance, but her efforts are overshadowed by the creeping knowledge of a debt unpaid, of a duty and destiny that must one day be hers. Accabadora has been awarded seven major literary prizes, including Italy’s prestigious Premio Campiello. An exceptional English-language debut, it weaves a narrative of rare grace and subtlety into a sensual tapestry of local nuance, atmosphere and dialect.
About the Author
Michela Murgia was born in Cabras, Sardinia, in 1972 and has worked as a religious studies teacher, a timeshare saleswoman and an administrator in a power plant. Accabadora firmly establishes her alongside Marcello Fois and Davide Longo at the forefront of a recent renaissance in Italian fiction.
This book is about a serious subject – death and life, but it is written with much lightness, poetry and sensitivity.
Winner of the Campiello, an important Literary Award, Accabadora describes Sardinia of the Fifties, a primitive world with rules and silent agreements, like the role of an angel of mercy of Bonaria, who adopts Maria, the autobiographical main character of the novel. Terse language, without emphasis.