This novel had come out prior to the other one I had read recently, “Bell’Antonio”, which was far superior to this. “The Lost Years” has the same dark comic qualities as “Bell’Antonio” but for some reason, I found it hard to remain focused on the prose, which makes it seem, to me, at least, that Brancati drastically improved as a writer as time went on.
The story here is about a man named Busciano who arrives back in Natàca, Sicily from New York with the idea of building a panoramic tower in the town. He sets about raising funds to build the tower for the pleasure of the town’s citizens and of course, for his own profit. The apathetic townsfolk are galvanized and the ever-optimistic Busciano believes that American styled dynamism will finally overcome southern sloth.
The novel is filled with colorful, quirky characters and it is quite funny at times. Nevertheless it was hard for me to really get “into” this book. For those interested in reading Brancati’s work, I would recommend you begin with “Bell’Antonio” instead of this one. All in all, not a bad novel. Just not a great one.