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Sicily, 1943. Paolino is a seven-year-old boy. To avoid being bullied by a group of young boys, he agrees to undergo a test of courage: he must enter the Garden of Filippu, an elderly man who lives alone on a hill and spends his time carving heads out of stone. The Garden is an enchanting place, where thousands of stone heads coexist among the olive trees, bearing witness to the changing seasons. Paolino and Filippu become acquainted, with the old man evolving into a friend and advisor to the child. An entire community revolves around them – a network of rivalries, ancient secrets, social and political changes, and unchanging rituals. In the four years that transform him from a child into a young boy, Paolino will come to understand the true meanings of betrayal, death, and love.By mixing Italian and Sicilian dialect to create a new language – with influences from authors such as Leonardo Sciascia, Andrea Camilleri, Vincenzo Consolo, and Gesualdo Bufalino – Veronica Galletta recounts a period in history that is not as distant as it may seem.


Veronica Galletta was born in 1971 in Sicily. In 2015, her unpublished novel, Le isole di Norman, was shortlisted for the ‘Italo Calvino’ prize, it’s published in April 2020 by Italo Svevo, Le isole di Norman won the prestigious ‘Premio Campiello’ for debut novel. Her second novel, Nina sull’argine, was published in October 2021 by minimum fax and was shortlisted for the ‘Premio Strega’ in 2022. In the same year, it also received the ‘Premio Letteratura d’Impresa.’

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