From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Sherlock Holmes in Abyssinia: subverting colonial power in Carlo Lucarelli’s Albergo Italia and Il tempo delle iene

Enrico Zammarchi


Carlo Lucarelli is a bestselling author of Italian crime and mystery novels (also known as gialli) who often engages with the topics of Italian colonialism and Fascism. As such, Lucarelli has contributed to a growing subgenre within Italian literature, known as giallo coloniale. This article looks at two of Lucarelli’s most recent novels – Albergo Italia (2014) and Il tempo delle iene (2015) – to discuss how its characters aim at subverting the power relations that would traditionally occur between European colonizers and colonized subjects. The article argues that Lucarelli’s strategic alternation of the Italian and Tigrinya languages and the identification of an indigenous police officer with the more famous literary character of Sherlock Holmes lead readers to question the effectiveness of Italy’s power over its East African colonies.


Carlo Lucarelli, Italian colonialism, Eritrea, giallo literature, Sherlock Holmes



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