Dasa Drndic, trans. from the Croatian by Ellen Elias-Bursac. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-547-72514-7
This moving novel of WWII and its aftermath is acclaimed Croatian author Drndic's American debut. In 2006, elderly Haya Tedeschi is awaiting a reunion with her son, who disappeared as an infant during WWII. Haya's memory ranges over her family's past, their experiences in the war, and its effect on their lives. The Tedeschi family lived in Gorizia and nearby Trieste, northern Italian cities caught between the major powers of Europe in cycles of war. But little could have prepared the family for the extremes of German occupation. Haya's richly textured reminisces include biographies of the Reich's film stars, scathing exposés of the complicity of the Swiss government and the Red Cross in the transport of Jews to concentration camps, and harrowing details of sadistic acts committed in the camps. Interspersed with Haya's account are photographs, interviews, and personal testimonies, and, in one case, pages listing the names of all 9,000 Jews deported from or murdered in northern Italy during the war. There is simply too much pain and guilt in this novel for Haya's reunion with her son to offer catharsis, and readers who become more interested in the characters than the history may be disappointed. However, Drndic's themes, use of history, and narrative technique invite favorable comparisons to W.G. Sebald, and the novel's relentlessly uncomfortable mood might be Drndic's point: the historical crimes were great, and complicity of almost everyone was enormous. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 09/16/2013
Release date: 01/14/2014
Hardcover - 358 pages - 978-0-85705-022-9
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-547-72581-9
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-85705-025-0
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-544-53850-4
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