In the la
st decade, the uncovering of a “
mafia system of communication
based on written messages (
) and other forms of writing has significantly challenged the long-held view that the Sicilian mafia was a criminal organisation largely based on an oral tradition. In particular, the discovery and emergence of memoirs and letters written by former
(who held different roles of responsibility within the organisation) raises new questions about the role of writing in the process of disengagement from mafia organisations. This article analyses the memoirs of mafia boss Michele Greco and mafia member Leonardo Vitale to investigate the dynamics at play when dealing with the trauma of leaving
and the resulting loss of a powerful collective identity. While the acquisition of a mafia identity has been the object of numerous studies, less attention has been given to what losing mafia status entails and the specific role of writing in this process. The article draws upon theories of representation of identity in self-narratives as a basis for our interpretation. The data analysed is from judicial papers, police reports and the relevant secondary literature on the subject. A previously unknown memoir written by boss Michele Greco in 1994 is also presented in this study for the first time.