Prizzi's Family is a satirical, semi-humorous crime novel by Richard Condon published in 1988. It is the third of four novels featuring the Prizzis, a powerful family of Mafiosi in New York City. In all four novels the main protagonist is a top member of the family named Charlie Partanna.
Early in 1986 Charley Partanna, now the Boss of the Prizzi family and secondary only to Don Carraro himself, capo di tuti capi, falls in love with an aspiring ballerina named Clair Coolidge. Clair runs one of the Prizzi's profitable new orgy rooms but is extremely "straight" herself.
Condon attacked his targets, usually gangsters, financiers, and politicians, wholeheartedly but with a uniquely original style and wit that made almost any paragraph from one of his books instantly recognizable. Reviewing one of his works in the International Herald Tribune, the well-known playwright George Axelrod (The Seven-Year Itch, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter), who had collaborated with Condon on the screenplay for the film adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate, wrote:
"The arrival of a new novel by Richard Condon is like an invitation to a party.... the sheer gusto of the prose, the madness of his similies, the lunacy of his metaphors, his infectious, almost child-like joy in composing complex sentences that go bang at the end in the manner of exploding cigars is both exhilarating and as exhausting as any good party ought to be."
In Prizzi's Honor, Condon's normal exuberance was somewhat curbed by choosing to narrate the events through the viewpoints of its various semi-literate gangsters, which limited the scope of his imagery. In Glory, however, he returns to being his usual omniscient narrator and we have:
Charley felt a jolt of high voltage electricity run through his body, starting deep inside and spreading out simultaneously to the roof of his head as if a horned ibex had leaped from his stomach and crashed into his skull. page 4
He showered, powdered, applied a deodorant so strong that it could also have been used as embalming fluid.... page 9
Don Carraro is the capo di tutti capi in the entire world
Real-life names in the book
All of Condon's books have, to an unknown degree, the names of real people in them as characters, generally very minor or peripheral. The most common, which appears in most of his books, is some variation of Franklin M. Heller. The real-life Heller was a television director in New York City in the 1950s, '60s, and 70s, who initially lived on Long Island and then moved to a house on Rockrimmon Road in Stamford, Connecticut. In this book
A.H. Weiler, a film critic for The New York Times, was another friend of Condon's who in this book is
The Keener's Manual
Beginning with his first book, The Oldest Confession, Condon frequently prefaced his novels with excerpts of verse from a so-called Keener's Manual; these epigraphs foreshadowed the theme of the book or, in several instances, gave the book its title. The Keener's Manual, however, was a fictional invention by Condon and does not actually exist. A "keen" is a "lamentation for the dead uttered in a loud wailing voice or sometimes in a wordless cry"  and a "keener" is a professional mourner, usually a woman in Ireland, who "utters the keen... at a wake or funeral." 
Five of Condon's first six books derived their titles from the fictional manual, the only exception being his most famous book, The Manchurian Candidate. The epigraph in The Manchurian Candidate, however, "I am you and you are me /and what have we done to each other?" is a recurring theme in earlier Condon's books: in various forms it also appears as dialog in both The Oldest Confession and Some Angry Angel. Among other epigraphs, the last line of "The riches I bring you /Crowding and shoving, /Are the envy of princes: /A talent for loving." is the title of Condon's fourth novel. His fifth and sixth novels, An Infinity of Mirrors and Any God Will Do, also derive their titles from excerpts of the manual.
Years later, Condon's 1988 novel Prizzi's Glory also had an epigraph from the manual, the first one in at least a dozen books.
Publisher's Weekly liked it:
Kirkus Review had mixed feelings about it:
The New York Times, definitely:
- Remembrance of Frank Heller, by Ira Skutch, at
- Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, Merriam-Webster, Inc., Springfield, Massachusetts, 2004, Template:ISBN
- Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged, G. & C. Merriam Co., Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1943