«The island beyond the moon»
an aeolian tale about the past, the present an the people of the Aeolian Islands

en FrançaisGerman page

An award-winning story about one of the remote Aeolian islands Lipari, Stromboli, Salina, Filicudi in the south of Italy.

english by Archibald McKenzie: e-book

french by Martine Thomas: e-book
Radio feature in German iTunes Download

«The author transforms language into perfumes and sounds, into impressions and landscapes, with intense and stunnig pictures.» Literary commission of the City of Berne 1993, on handing over the literary award.

What happens if a 23-year-old student takes his books and leaves Switzerland for the south of Italy? He finds an island - 9,5 km2 big - that others have left in search of work in downunder, Argentina or the USA. The villages on this island are ruined, looking like ghost towns, covered by ferns. Geckoes and snakes living in the houses.
The student works along the last inhabitants in winter storms and earthquakes. He makes wine or bakes bread. He lives with little money on the borderline of civilization. Roaming an untouched and wild nature. One morning he's standing on a hill in front of a ruin and has the strange feeling of having come home.
The very same day a contract is signed. The poet of the island sells the ruin to the young poet from Northern Europe. That's the end of the dream of a house on an island. And the beginning of reality...

Physical Book: German edition Liorne, 1992, 2d Edition 2002; CHF 29.- / Euro 19.– ,
English translation
e-book (Archibald Mc Kenzie), French translation e-book (Martine Thomas)
German audio CD with sounds and a feature about Filicudi, sold by the author. CHF 25.–
Songs by Roland Zoss from the island on the CD «Schlummerland» in iTunes Stores

Questa piccola Isola
(mp3 5MB)
1979 by Roland Zoss
Translation: Archibald McKenzie

I hear the bell tolling for the dead old Maria has passed away,
she who raised vine-shoots and mint is emigrating,
the last of the two thousand who stamped the fire into the wine
until hunger came to the villages

Evening rises in blue shadows to my place on the mountain
the mongoloid boy on his way home
sings his song to himself
how lonely Id be without him on this small island

Tomorrow life goes on again Mr Doctor prescribes an aspirin
the priest passes the days playing cards
in the shadow of the church and Angela aged thirteen
is a virgin and expecting a child
of the Holy Spirit from Australia

Yet all will pray well at the Santo Stefano procession
under the sweet burden of the cross
the lads dream of America
and all sins are forgiven on this small island

Night comes black out of Africa a hot breeze washes gold in my hair
a scent of clay and coffee caravans cross the sea
a motor-boat howls in the harbour
abruptly I wake from my daydreams
in the village the gas-lanterns are lit already

The road back there is long badly damaged
by weather and cattle
have they all abandoned Paradise then,
even the green angel in the olive tree?
And I am but a stranger here on this small island!

«The island beyond the moon»:

Evening throws the shadow of Montagnola over Peccorini village on the south face, like a bluish stole. As if to cover up your thoughts. As if to release the eye from the contemplation of tumbledown ruins, neglected pathways and bitten-down trees.
The sky seeks its reflection in the puddles on collapsed flat rooftops. And suddenly, in the lonely alley to the church – where the disabled man sits like a memorial – you are seized by the hundred-times-over silence of the emigrants, the great loneliness.
And you have to sit down and stare up, up at the peak. These bands of soil, not ten meters wide, that rise interminably to the Fossa di Felci like stairs, these terraces, these millions of stones, which first made it possible to walk across and live on the island: these you must build again in your imagination, stone by stone, wall by wall. Until your hands are bloody and your back stiff under the merciless sun.
What an inconceivable, gigantic piece of work – from the sea to a height of 700 meters! Impossible to imagine that fertile vines grew in the rubble scree-sides of the causeway. Impossible to imagine that olive groves stood on the steep slopes where you stumble over burnt stumps and you can barely walk upright.
Who defied the wilderness to make this land their own? Who brought it to bloom generation by generation? And who finally gave it all up?
Were they Roman slaves, Greek settlers, or nineteenth-century farmers who completed the work of their lifetime when they laid the last stone up at the peak? In any case they were men, as tough as obsidian. Nameless men. You think of them, drinking the good air in the shimmering light, breathing the evening with the smell of bread,.
According to the population records, there were 1,547 souls on Filicudi in 1911. Until then they had lived rather well by exporting capers, olives and their dark sweet wines. Two world wars thoroughly changed that: the islanders left their home by the hundred. “To Argentina to live, to America to earn, to Australia to die”, they used to say as they stood their ground in the New World:
From being a labourer without a word of English, you worked your way up to become a greengrocer, then a manager running an entire hotel empire. La Mafia? – No! Il lavoro! Work and then more work – and cooperation. Filicudi is proud of her famous sons. The island has produced journalists and entrepreneurs overseas, and one famous man: John Bonica, pioneer of local anesthetics and a world champion free-style wrestler.
Yet while things were taking off in America, Atlantis, a unique culture in the Tyrrhenian Sea, was foundering on the other side of the world. Strangers from the mainland arrived on the island and took possession of the land. In the beginning, they did not care whether the vines and the olive-trees bore fruit, caught fire or were eaten by cattle. Wall after wall, terrace after terrace collapsed.
Only recently have the “new Filicudians” developed a sense of nature and copied from the tourists an appreciation of greenery and gardens. But do they really understand the voice of the sea, the secret murmurings of ancient cranesbills, the gospel of the moon?"

«Distant islands are as much his domain as the realm of the word or the empire of the inner self!"
B.Häusler, BERNER BäR

Audio documentation to the book in German:

Aldo Gardini - Swiss Radio has realized a fascinating one hour feature with the singing, working, living of the people of Filicudi. Listen here to the Saint Stefano-procession.

Download «The island» e-Book
english by Archibald Mc Kenzie

in french by Martine Thomas

Documentary film (Italian)
"Men & Stones"


Buy the German book directly from the author:
Please pay the amount, add CHF. 8.- (in Europe), or add CHF. 18.- (overseas) for shipping and handling.

With Paypal, account: eolo@rolandzoss.com

By Postal account:
Roland Zoss, Bern, IBAN CH57 0900 0000 917920208,
Also send an e-mail with your order information.

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