Vincent Panella


Cutter’s Island

Novel, 2000

This is a revenge tale based on a little known event in the life of Julius Caesar. When he was twenty five, Caesar was captured by pirates and held on an island for forty days. The story of Caesar’s liberation and revenge is briefly summarized by historians, but Cutter’s Island is a retelling in Caesar’s voice and in the context of his world.


Praise for Cutter’s Island

Cutter’s Island is a perfect, flawless gem, without a false note anywhere. In prose as spare as Caesar’s own, Mr. Panella makes surfaces reflect surfaces, with the sense of bottomless depths beneath. He packs more between the lines, and between chapters, than most writers deliver in books and books.

– Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire


…written in a pithy, vigorous prose reminiscent of Caesar’s classic style, Cutter’s Island summons up the violence, danger, and intrigue of the Roman world, investing events long past with a fresh sense of immediacy. Read Full Review

– Los Angeles Times


“It is like an epic poem. There is great complexity to the characters, which doesn’t always happen in historical fiction.” Read Full Review

Charles Hix, Publisher’s Weekly

…the world was different then. If you want to find out how different and read a fact-based adventure story that puts breath and blood into ancient history, read Cutter’s Island.

Unlike many writers of historical fiction, the author doesn’t overburden his prose with period detail. Instead, through concise description and subtle inference, he allows the reader to construct the past in his her own mind. It’s not so much what he puts in but what he carefully leaves out. Caesar is the story’s narrator and his style in undeniably modern, but even so there are no anachronisms, no jarring notes. The reader is not cajoled, but lulled backwards in time.

– Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus.

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They fire our ship, put us aboard the pirate galley, and take us northeast under oar and sail. In this part of Our Sea there are no islands. The ocean undulates with a latent, fearful power, and without reference points, sailing becomes hypnotic and mind-numbing. With the painfully slow passage of time a wall of clouds on the horizon becomes the Asian mainland with its vast, wooded mountains. Here we turn north and pass beneath palisades of porous gray marble which form the base for walled settlements. Outside the walls women spread gay colored clothing on bushes to dry, and naked boys throw stones at our ship – boys to whom the chief waves and calls in his own language.

At night lamps are lit, and the men bring a snack of roasted chick peas. The chief pours them into his mouth from a gourd held under one arm. When eating, he steers with the tiller between his knees and every so often gives me a burst of Cilician. When I ask him to use Greek – as he did before – he puts his hands between his legs and pretends to play with himself. I tell him he isn’t funny.

After several hours we pull away from the coast and head westward, out to the open sea. Soon torch lights appear in the distance, then the outline of a small island. We sail for the lights, which burn in a tower on high ground near the shoreline. Three horn blasts announce our arrival, and rounding a hook of land we slip into a circular harbor with sheer cliffs to one side and a sand beach on the other. A few small craft are pulled up on the beach, and near them some cooking fires blaze. We drop anchor and wade ashore. The sickening smell of roasting meat nearly overcomes me.

The Other Side: Growing up Italian in America

The Other Side is Vincent Panella’s personal journey, from rejection of his family to a realization that he cannot escape or deny his origins. 

Lost Hearts

The twenty-three stories in Lost Hearts comprise a rich and candid account of growing up and growing old in Sicily and America.

Sicilian Dreams

Santo Regina immigrates after taking part in a failed political movement incited by Vito Cascio Ferro, a figure historians describe as rabble rouser and member of The Black Hand. Once in America Santo becomes entangled with Cascio Ferro and his arch rival, Detective Joseph Petrosino of New York’s famous Italian Squad.

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