Pascali’s Island by Barry Unsworth

In the dying days of the Ottoman Empire in 1908 Basil Pascali is a spy who reports regularly to Istanbul on the activities of the local people on his Aegean island. His reports are never acknowledged or seemingly acted upon, although his regular payment continues to come through. He expects to be found out at any moment.

When an English archaeologist arrives on the island, Pascali is suspicious of him, and the archaeologist’s involvement with the woman Pascali loves creates further tensions.

Brought to the screen in 1988 ( by James Dearden it stars Ben Kingsley, Charles Dance and Helen Mirren.

Barry Unsworth ( has given us a genial and greatly entertaining tale, if not something of great depth. It was published in 1980 and shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Barry Unsworth.jpg

Barry Unsworth

192 pages in Penguin paperback edition.

ISBN 978-0140058611

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