A Sportful Malice by Michiel Heyns
01 May 2014
When a South African literary scholar, Michael Marcucci, is offered, via a Facebook contact, a house in the Tuscan village of Gianocini, he accepts with alacrity. This is just the space and quiet he needs to complete his study of Tuscan appropriations. But even before he has boarded his plane at Stansted Airport: an obnoxious old man jumps the boarding queue, and Michael is given the evil eye by a belligerent bovver boy covered in tattoos. Nor is this to be the last meeting with these objectionable characters: they turn up in unexpected places, first in Florence and then in Gianocini itself, with a frequency that cannot be purely coincidental.
In the meantime Michael is pursuing his own extracurricular agenda, through the streets of Florence and the passages of the Uffizi, then through the alleyways of Gianocini, only to find himself the object of mysterious designs and the subject of some very disturbing paintings.
Add to this the innocent but curious Wouter, the refined but startlingly rude harridan, Sophronia, the beautiful but supercilious Paolo and a dog called Thanatos – the Tuscan sun never shone on a more bizarre mix.
After the sophisticated comedy of The Typewriter’s Tale and Invisible Furies, and the poignant ironies of Lost Ground, Michiel Heyns here returns to the broader comedy of The Reluctant Passenger, in a scintillating tale of love, revenge and trippa.