Synopses & Reviews
Every spring for untold centuries, great schools of giant bluefin tuna have swum through the Strait of Gibraltar to spawn in the Mediterranean Sea. And there, for untold centuries, men have been waiting for them. In this stunning debut, Theresa Maggio brings us inside the insular world of the tonnara
the ritual trapping and killing of bluefin enacted by fishermen since the Stone Age. In a single, bloody spectacle called the mattanza the fishermen harvest the bluefin, lifting them by hand from the Chamber of Death, the last room in an elaborate trap.
Theresa Maggio witnessed her first mattanza on Favignana, a butterfly-shaped island off the coast of Sicily. Brought to the island by a fisherman who was in love with her, Maggio in turn fell in love with Favignana, with its white magic and stonework, its anchors and nets. Penetrating this exotic, all-male world as no woman has before her, Maggio documents a dark and beautiful ritual that might soon disappear a casualty of the modern fishing industry. Part memoir, part natural history, part travelogue, Mattanza is a riveting narrative of one woman's journey into another world, a world where moon lemons grow wild, and where the sea holds the promise of renewal.
"Riveting...beautifully and compassionately documents an arcane way of life and death." The New York Times
"Brave and imaginative" The Washington Post
Maggio delivers a magnificent journey inside the world of a Sicilian fishing community and its thousand-year-old rituals. Part memoir, part natural history, "Mattanza" is a riveting narrative of one woman's journey into another world. 30 photos.
About the Author
Theresa Maggio, the granddaughter of Sicilian immigrants, grew up in the New Jersey Meadowlands. After college she hitchhiked coast-to-coast alone three times. She finally settled down in Vermont in 1975, and made laser optics there until she was recruited by Los Alamos National Laboratory. Since the early 1990s, she has worked as a free-lance travel writer. Her work has appeared frequently in the New York Times as well as the Financial Times, London Daily Telegraph, New York Daily News, and Miami Herald, among other publications.