cover image Mourning


Eduardo Halfon, trans. from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman and Daniel Hahn. Bellevue Literary (Consortium, dist.), $15.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-942658-44-3

Halfon (The Polish Boxer) spins a bewitching tale of a man named Eduardo Halfon who travels half the globe on a quest to understand his dark family history. His journey begins in Calabria, where he visits a place not widely associated with Italy: a concentration camp. Halfon the narrator, a Spanish-speaking Jew, is ostensibly in Italy to speak about a book he wrote about how his Polish grandfather survived the Holocaust, but his exploits reveal his need to more viscerally understand this tragic experience. In this vein, he goes to Łódź, Poland, where his grandfather was captured by the Gestapo in 1939 at the age of 19. While his grandfather had discouraged him from ever visiting, he told Halfon the address of his former home during their final conversation. He finds the apartment, which he has long felt driven to see, though he struggles to articulate why. After leaving Poland, he visits his Lebanese grandparents’ lake home in Guatemala to investigate a tragedy from that side of his family: his Uncle Salomón’s childhood drowning. What he finds is unexpected and gives new dimension to the roles that secrets and memory play in his family. Careful, arresting prose brings everything together in a moving, evocative story of the narrator’s bloodline. (May)