Voices from a Time
Silvia Bonucci. Steerforth Press, $12.95 (179pp) ISBN 978-1-58642-098-7
Family dynamics collide with watershed moments of the 20th century in this debut novel that follows the Levi family from pre-WWI through the rise of fascism in Italy. Hopping perspectives among the aristocratic Levis-beautiful and selfish Gemma, her weak, adoring husband Sandro and their three children, Marcello, Dolly and Titti-Bonucci chronicles the Levis' Zelig-like tour through the era, from the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the Dreyfus Affair and the advent of Zionism, the Irredentist struggle, and the growing influence of Il Duce. Clearly, Bonucci, a translator and organizer of the anti-Berlusconi movement, is after large quarry-her writing is big on drama and thin on literary embellishment. Yet more than political turmoil, the Levi family is embattled by personal woes: gambling, drug addiction, adultery and a tangle of Oedipal attachments. The ""true"" story, readers learn, lies in the gaps between these narratives, at the limits of characters' self-awareness. (Even a trip to the fashionable Dr. Freud hardly penetrates Marcello's damaged psyche.) In its original Italian publication, this book won the Zerilli-Marimo prize, and its arrival in the U.S. is sure to interest readers of both historical fiction and international literature.
Reviewed on: 01/02/2006