Cynicism is a strange quality. While it fills the onlooker with great distaste and discomfort, the cynic himself is attuned to observe and define every little happening, every tiny phenomenon. Though quite antisocial, cynicism doubts everything, and so it is an amazing strength for a detective. Simone Simonini is one such character; the only fictional character in Umberto Eco's The Prague Cemetery. This book is the authors latest and finest since The Name Of The Rose; a critically acclaimed novel. Simonini is in the midst of the Italian unification revolution, and is hired by the Piedmont Government's secret service. To his shock, he unearths the real motives of the Italian unification hero Garibaldi's crooked intentions and also meets the Italian patriots Bixio and Nievo. Nievo has some documents that Simonini is ordered to destroy, so he blasts the ship housing Nievo, and is banished to Paris.
In Paris, he secretly works for the French services and helps forge the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which caused the extermination of the Jews and also the infamous Dreyfus affair. He eventually loses his memory and wakes up one morning to not recall anything. So he starts to write down a diary, and this is the narrative of the book. Simonini also finds that someone else is filling in details while he is passed out due to exhaustion and intoxication, and that is Dalla Piccola, who himself has a long story of Palladism, Free masonry, Satan worship and Christianity's changing form in the nineteenth century behind him.
The plot is dark but electrifyingly intense. The diary entries sketch out the mid-modern Europe and its upheavals so vividly, it plunges one in the same gloom and insecurities as those times. The characters and events are real, except for the main protagonist of the book. This novel has been translated to English by Richard Dixon and has been nominated for the 2012 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Shop online for The Prague Cemetery using ISBN 10 number - 0099555980 and ISBN 13 number - 978-0099555988.