The Army of Lost Rivers

Carlo Sgorlon, Author, Jessie Bright, Translator Italica Press $17.5 (290p) ISBN 978-0-934977-62-3
In the midst of senzapatria (a state of rootless disenfranchisement), the characters of Sgorlon's bleak and brilliant novel know only the ""dark Babylon of war."" In the final hours of WWII the Nazis ""give"" Friuli, a region of Italy bordering on Austria, to the Cossack bands who have collaborated with them on the Eastern Front against the Soviet forces. Marta is the Friulian housekeeper for a Russian Jewish refugee named Esther. When Esther is deported by the Germans, Marta keeps the villa, sheltering a partisan soldier, Ivos, and refusing to accept Esther's death. As the expatriated Cossacks arrive in 1944 ""like a plague of grasshoppers,"" the commander of the local Cossack division, Gavrila, quarters himself in Marta's villa. Entanglements, romantic and otherwise, occur. The truce established by Urvan, another commander and Marta's lover, with the Friuli villagers is broken when some Cossacks rape and kill a peasant beauty. As the atrocities multiply, it becomes clear that Cossack culture cannot long survive in the Friuli valleys. Sgorlon's (The Wooden Throne) sympathy, like his point of view, is divided evenly between the terrorized (and emotionally torn) indigenous people and the bewildered, aggressive Cossack refugees. Neo-realism may at times sit uneasily with a sort of swollen romanticism--Urvan's Slavic soul is ""vast"" and Marta is the eternal feminine principle--but these moments are quite easy to ignore in this grave and intelligent novel. (Apr.) FYI: Army of the Lost Rivers won the Premio Strega when it was published in Italy in 1985.
Reviewed on: 12/21/2009
Release date: 12/01/2009
Show other formats
FORMATS
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.