André Naffis-Sahely at The Nation:
Three months after Alessandro Spina’s death in July 2013, Ilario Bertoletti, his Italian editor, published a memoir in which he described his first near-encounter with the notoriously reclusive writer: “It was June, 1993. The bell rang in the late afternoon; moments later, a colleague entered my office: ‘A gentleman dropped by. He looked like an Arab prince, tall and handsome. He left a history of the Maronites for you.’”
The editor made some inquiries and discovered that Spina had been quietly publishing a number of novels and short stories since the early 1960s. It was an oeuvre that charted the history of Libya from 1911, when Italy invaded the sleepy Ottoman province, all the way to 1966, when petrodollars sparked an economic boom, exacerbating the corruption and nepotism that eventually paved the way for Muammar Qaddafi’s coup d’état in 1969. Bertoletti runs an independent imprint based in Brescia, and it took him fifteen years to persuade Spina to let him reissue his books, or rather to assemble them into a 1,280-page omnibus edition entitled I confini dell’ombra: In terra d’oltremare (The Confines of the Shadow: In Lands Overseas).