Private funeral held for Italy's renowned writer Camilleri

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A private funeral was held in Rome on Thursday for Italian writer Andrea Camilleri, 93, the author of a renowned police series inspired to the character of Inspector Montalbano.

Camilleri had been hospitalized in mid-June in the Italian capital after a heart attack, and his death was announced on Wednesday.

Following his request, the funeral took place in a strictly private form at a non-Catholic cemetery here, and only relatives were admitted.

An accomplished intellectual, Camilleri long worked as TV and theater director and scriptwriter, taught at the National Academy of Dramatic Art and at the Experimental Cinematographic Center in Rome between the 1950s and the late 1990s, and wrote several books.

Nonetheless, the 30 bestselling Inspector Montalbano's stories -- set in his native Sicily -- were those for which he became one of Italy's most loved writers, and quite popular abroad as well.

The detective series is focused on the character of inspector Salvo Montalbano, a police chief in a small imaginary Sicilian town called Vigata whose gestures are told in a colorful mixed of Italian language and Sicilian dialect.

Through Montalbano's stories, Camilleri dealt with several contemporary socio-political issues Italy has been going through in latest decades, including mafia, corruption, the plea of migrants, and the persistence of the country's different regional customs, starting from his beloved Sicily.

The first Montalbano story was titled "The shape of water" and appeared on the market in 1994.

Overall, Montalbano's books sold over 31 million copies in Italy, a staggering figure for a 60-million people country, in which the average number of readers is usually quite below European levels.

In 2017, for example, people aged 6 and over who read at least one book in 12 months were 23 millions in Italy, or 41 percent of the population accounted, according to the latest statistics available.

Thirty-four TV episodes drawn from the Montalbano novels were also produced and broadcast by state RAI TV since 1999, and overall watched by a 1.2 billion audience (also considering reruns) up to 2019.

So great was the success of Inspector Montalbano's character that the Sicilian locations identified with the stories and TV episodes -- within the southeast province of Ragusa -- have increasingly become touristic attractions since early 2000s.

The Inspector Montalbano books have been translated into over 30 languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Japanese, Brazilian, Russian, and Chinese. 

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