Tinder Press, February 2017
He knows. Before the loud, insistent knocking, the shouts, the sound of his name being called by a stranger, his mother’s eyes wide with fear; he knows.
Francesco has a memory of his father from early childhood; a night when everything for his family changed. Since then, he has vowed to live by his missing father’s words. Non mollare. Never give up.
When Francesco is arrested with a group of young men and sent to the island of San Domino, he knows someone has reported them to the fascist police. Locked in spartan dormitories alongside lovers, friends and enemies, resentment and suspicion between the prisoners grows each day.
Elena, a young island girl, is drawn to Francesco, even as her family try to keep her away from him. When she discovers the truth about the prisoners, the fine line between love and hate pulls her towards an act that can only have terrible consequences for all.
Based on the true story of the persecution of gay and bisexual men in fascist Italy, MUSSOLINI’S ISLAND is a powerful exploration of sexuality and desire, and of the desperate acts committed when individuals fight for their lives and their rights.
The Times Historical Novel of the Month
2018 Betty Trask Award
Shortlisted for the Historical Writers Association Debut Crown Award
Shortlisted for the Polari First Novel Prize
'A fascinating debut...the setting and characters are strong and the story is written with verve. Day is a talent to watch' (The Times)
'Startling. A compassionate and clear-eyed debut which illuminates a grim chamber of 20th century history' (Patrick Gale, author of A PLACE CALLED WINTER)
'[An] impressive debut... Day handles her neatly structured plot with great dexterity as she nudges her readers, one revelation at a time, towards the truth about what has happened and about Francesco's hidden history' (Sunday Times)
'Based on a true story, this is a haunting fictional account of oppression, survival and resilience and a powerful portrayal of sexuality and war' (Attitude Magazine)
'Day's style reminds me of Somerset Maugham - the book is sexy, scary, enraging and beautiful - with a murder mystery at the centre that will keep you guessing' (The Pool)
'A genuine standout amongst literary debuts. This complex, brave and powerful novel, both tender and hard-hitting, features fine writing and a transporting sense of place' (Isabel Costello The Literary Sofa)