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Trieste [Paperback]

Dasa Drndic , Ellen Elias-Bursac
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Feb 2013

An old woman sits alone in Gorizia, north-eastern Italy. She is waiting to be reunited with her son. He was fathered by an S.S. officer and stolen from her sixty-two years before by the Nazi authorities during the German occupation.

By focusing on the experiences of one individual, Drndic engages head-on with the traumatic history of WWII and the Holocaust and deals unsparingly with the massacre of Jews in Trieste's concentration camp.

A literary collage comprising photographs, scraps of poetry, interviews and testimonies from the Nuremburg Trials, it is a formally daring work of immense power and scope.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: MacLehose Press (28 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780878354
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780878355
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 370,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Although this is fiction, it is also a deeply researched historical documentary ... It is a masterpiece' A.N. Wilson, Financial Times.

'A literary tour-de-force' Amanda Hopkinson, Independent.

'The multifarious elements that comprise Haya's story and its grand context are an incredibly dense and potent mixture' Daniel Dahn, Independent on Sunday.

'Original, moving and beautifully translated and produced' The Guardian.

From the Inside Flap

Haya Tedeschi sits alone in Gorizia, north-eastern Italy, surrounded by a basket of photographs and newspaper clippings. Now an old woman, she waits to be reunited after sixty-two years with her son, fathered by an S.S. officer and stolen from her by the German authorities during the War as part of Himmler's clandestine 'Lebensborn' project, which strove for a 'racially pure' Germany. Haya's reflection on her Catholicized Jewish family's experiences deals unsparingly with the massacre of Italian Jews in a concentration camp in Trieste. Her obsessive search for her son leads her to photographs, maps, fragments of verse, to testimonies from the Nuremberg Trials and interviews with second-generation Jews, as well as witness accounts of atrocities that took place on her doorstep. Written in immensely powerful language, and employing a range of astonishing conceptual devices, Trieste is a novel like no other. Daša Drndić has produced a shattering contribution to the literature of our twentieth-century history.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Italy too, lest we forget 25 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In this masterly blending of fact and fiction, Dasa Drndic has produced an extraordinary work, one recognised in the UK by the judges of The Independent Foreign Fiction 2012 awards.

So far as the historical record goes, the book is concerned with the rounding-up of around 9,000 Jews in German-occupied North-Eastern Italy, the area centred on Trieste, and their transport north to (mainly) Treblinka. When winter snow closed the Brenner Pass, the wagons went the long way round through supposedly neutral Switzerland. In addition, many captured partisans and anti-Fascists were taken to a converted rice-mill outside town and liquidated.

The book makes extensive use of archives, including transcripts from the Nuremberg Trials and the later trials of those involved in the many cruelties of Treblinka. The book is full of historical characters, not just leading Nazis but also junior officers and others running the camps, and `ordinary' witnesses bearing testimony. Dasa Drndic approaches her subject in oblique ways, using poetry and songs, interviews and documents, lists and photographs, to set up an almost Cubist design wherein the structure can only be viewed one part at a time and each from a different angle.

As for the 'story', the historical Kurt Franz`s career accelerates rapidly as the 1930s becomes the 1940s. In the 1930s he has been a cook at one of the euthanasia centres set up under `Aktion Reinhard', a programme whose purpose is the elimination of the physically and mentally disabled (as determined by the SS) in Southern and Eastern Poland.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving and well researched book. 2 April 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Trieste a moving and beautifully woven story linking fictional characters and real events during the period after the Nazis moved into North Eastern Italy in 1943. The book was really well researched and the details concerning the treatment of Jews and Partisans under the Nazis showed the horror and inhumanity of the time. The theft of the baby and German attempts to create a 'pure' bred population have dreadful consquences for the children as the war ends and they are identified for what they are - there seems to have been no room for forgiveness when the war was over.It is perhaps wrong to say that I liked the book , it is not that kind of book , but it drew me into the people and events in a grapic way. I read the book initially because of a planned holiday to Trieste and while there a visit to the Risera de San Saba demonstarted what a cold and forbidding place it was/is and the testimony of survivors plus the memorials to those who died left quite an empty feeling, especially in a world where attitudes towards those who are 'different' and the rise of the Facist right in some countries shows that what Dasa Drndic was writing about has not gone away.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and moving 30 May 2014
By Amanda Jenkinson TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
This documentary novel by Croatian writer Dasa Drndic is one of the most powerful and compelling books I have ever read, and deserves to become a classic of Nazi and Holocaust literature Centred around the family story of Haya Tedeschi, it tells of her relationship with an SS officer and the abduction of her baby when a few months old by the Lebesnborn programme. Sixty-two years later the novel opens with Haya still waiting to be reunited with him after a lifetime spent searching, and reminiscing about her turbulent past as she does so.
Within this narrative framework, the author has assembled an astonishing collage of eyewitness testimony, official documents, personal biographies, photographs, trial transcripts and even a complete list of the 9,000 Italians who were deported to the death camps. Much of the book covers familiar territory, as the era is well documented in both fiction and non-fiction. But Drndic brings a new dimension to the events by setting her story in Italy and bringing to our attention some of the lesser-known aspects of the time, such as, for example, a description of the Risiera of San Sabba, the only concentration camp on Italian soil, today a little-known and little-visited memorial, and the fact that freight-trains carrying Italian Jews and anti-fascists were allowed to travel through neutral Switzerland.
This book is an amazing achievement, meshing together both fiction and non-fiction, with almost every page presenting the reader with a new fact, a new scenario, so that the sum total is almost overwhelming. So unremitting is the tension that I couldn’t put it down and read it almost in one sitting. Even if some of the material is familiar, our involvement in Haya’s personal story as an individual brings home to us once again the true horror of the Hitler era.
The front cover calls the book “a monumental contribution to the literature of Europe’s modern history” and with that I most wholeheartedly concur.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A book translated from Croat with the German title Sonnenschein, but which in English the translator adopts the name of an infamous Adriatic university town, made known in Churchill's Fulton "Iron curtain" speech in May 1946: Trieste, which until the fall of the Berlin Wall, was economically dying, kept artificially alive on a life-support as the last frontier station of pseudo-western freedoms and consumerism (countless jeans outlets thriving around the Ponterosso market for Slavs), and which since those heady days in 1989 has even ceased to be a brief rest-stop, becoming a sad, bleak Middle European ghost-like shell, living on memories of long past imperial glories - something which surprisingly the location gets limited attention throughout the volume. Part of the author's plan, or an unexpected oversight?

In Trieste, Dasa Drndic takes us on a multi-generational biographical family history across a century of time and geographical space around Southern / Central Europe, chiefly around the sleepy provincial centre of Görz or Gorizia/Gorica in Italian / Slovene, as experienced by the Jewish Baar / Tedeschi, families, and the key individuals within, as they grow up, fall in love, marry, have families, and die, in the wake of national political events: the onset of War in 1914 and the defeat of the Hapsburg Empire; the annexation of the multi-linguistic & ethnic territories under the Kingdom of Italy; the rise of Fascism, the gradual enforcement of anti-Jewish laws leading to the holocaust; and the long trial to retrace long lost loved ones.
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