Mattanza: love and death in the sea of Sicily
by Theresa Maggio
Perseus Publishing
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2000.

From: Jacket notes
"Theresa Maggio brings us inside the secretive world of the tonnara—the ritual trapping and killing of bluefin enacted by fishermen since the stone age. Every spring, these majestic bluefinhave passed through the Strait of Gibraltar to spawn in the Mediterranean. And there, every year for generations, men have waited for them.

"In a single bloody spectacle, called the mattanza, the men harvest the bluefin, lifting them by hand from a labyrinthine trap. Richly drawn, Mattanza illuminates this rite of spring with prose that is both gritty and lyrical, and in the process unveils a way of life that might soon disappear. Maggio takes us from the net house, its jaw-like arches resembling a tuna's open maw, into the old cannery, where, during the war, hungry young boys used to suck the marrow from tuna bones...".

"Part memoir, part natural history, and part travelogue, Mattanza is a romantic tale of one woman's journey into another world"...

The book recounts the biology, the oceanography, history, ritual, economics and politics of Sicilian fishermen and Northern Bluefin tuna in an island community and the world market. In addition it is a graphic first hand account of the fishery, of her experience within it, not just with the fishermen and what she observed, but in the context of their relationships, their community, their culture and their religion.

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