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Olivia Kate Cerrone: The Hunger Saint

July 12, 2017 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

THE HUNGER SAINT is a story of hope and survival set in post-WWII Italy. Hailed by Kirkus as “a well- crafted and affecting literary tale,” this historical novella follows the journey of Ntoni, a twelve-year-old boy forced to labor in Sicily’s sulfur mines to support his family after his father’s untimely death. Faced with life-threatening working conditions, Ntoni must choose between escaping the mines and abandoning his family. As a series of unforeseen events soon complicate his plans, Ntoni realizes that all is not what it seems and to trust anyone might prove to be as fatal as being trapped inside of a cave-in. The Hunger Saint draws from years of historical research and was informed by the oral histories of former miners still living in Sicily today.

The book has received some some great press so far, which I am happy to share with you. The reviews so far have been very favorable, especially this one from Kirkus Reviews, which described the book as “a well-crafted and affecting literary tale.” I’ve included more reviews in this email. The Brooklyn Rail also interviewed me about the book along with the San Francisco Book Review.


Praise for The Hunger Saint:

“Cerrone tells her story in a deliberative prose…perfectly evoking both the setting and time period of this piece of historical fiction. The tale brings to mind American literary realism of the early 20th century—Upton Sinclair, Jack London—as well as the books of midcentury Sicilian writers like Leonardo Sciascia. Cerrone uses Ntoni’s experiences to shed light on the little-remembered soccorso morto practice, which held thousands of children in virtual slavery…A well-crafted and affecting literary tale.”

Kirkus Reviews

“…a powerful survey that brings to life and personalizes the plight of child laborers and their experiences, highly recommended for any who enjoy historical novels in general and, particularly, those who look for cultural insights and social messages in fiction readings.”

The Midwest Review

“Powerful writing…This is a story that is very moving, and…certainly memorable.”

San Francisco Book Review

“The Hunger Saint is an exquisitely written, vivid, and engaging novella…Cerrone’s story prizes resilience and the human spirit.”

The American

“…a good read for anyone interested in Sicilian history…the plight of the working class. The carusi and the sulfur mines are a part of history that I was unaware of, and if that’s the case for you, then I would deeply recommend this novella.”

Seattle Book Review

5-Star Review

“A gritty novella that pulses with rhythm, texture, and a story that locks the reader to its pages, The Hunger Saint is the riveting tale of young Ntoni, who is forced to labor in Sicily’s sulfur mines to support his family. Few books treat the subject of manual labor with such fluid realism and descriptive beauty. The Hunger Saint marks the debut of a distinctive and talented new voice in North American fiction.”

–Tony Ardizzone, author of The Whale Chaser

“Olivia Kate Cerrone’s The Hunger Saint is a masterful novella . . . In understated but beautiful language, Cerrone first draws our attention by event then keeps it through unswerving allegiance to felt-life detail and sure-handed revelation. It’s a book not to be missed.”

–Rusty Barnes, author of Breaking it Down and Reckoning

“The grind and terror of Sicilian mining [is] brought to such electric life by Olivia Kate Cerrone . . . all rendered in minutia that scrapes the skin and catches in the throat.”

–John Domini, author of Movieola! and A Tomb on the Periphery

“. . . Cerrone’s exacting knowledge of the post-war Sicilian sulfur mines is matched only by the elegance of her prose and the depth of her compassion. Ntoni’s journey touched my heart.”

–Lindsay Hatton, author of Monterey Bay

“A remarkable rendering of one young man’s life doing the barbarous, slave-like work in the sulfur mines of Sicily . . . Cerrone’s work is nothing short of a triumph of Sicilian history, a testament to a little-known feature of early twentieth-century Sicilian society and a sobering look at the cruel sacrifices of so many. . .”

–Michelle Messina Reale, author of Birds of Sicily

“The Hunger Saint is a wonderful tale of escape and redemption. . . Cerrone’s haunting vision is both timely and necessary.”

–Frederick Reiken, author of Day for Night and The Lost Legends of New Jersey


July 12, 2017
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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Gloucester Writers Center
126 East Main Street
Gloucester, 01930
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