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 the concentration camps of Trieste. Her obsessive search for her son leads her to photographs, maps and 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. A broad collage of material is assembled, and the lesser-known horror of Nazi occupation in northern Italy is gradually unveiled.
Written in immensely powerful language, and employing a range of astonishing conceptual devices, Trieste is a novel like no other. Dasa Drndic has produced a shattering contribution to the literature of our twentieth-century history.
Dasa Drndic was a distinguished Croatian novelist and playwright. She was also been a translator, and a lecturer at the Faculty of Philosophy in Rijeka. Trieste (2012), her first novel to be translated into English, was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and has now been translated into many other languages. It was followed by Leica Format (2015) and Belladonna (2017). Belladonna has been shortlisted for both the inaugural EBRD prize and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize and received stunning reviews. Dasa Drndic died in June 2018.
Trieste is a work of European high culture. Drndic is writing neither to entertain (her novel is splendid and absorbing nevertheless) nor to instruct (its subject, the Holocaust, is too intractable to yield lessons). She is writing to witness, and to make the pain stick. — Craig Seligman, New York Times
'Trieste is more than just a novel, it's a document that should be compulsory reading in secondary schools ... Books like this are necessary whilst there's still a glimmer of hope that eloquently reminding us of the past may prevent its repetition' Bookbag. — Bookbag
'It contains no consolation, no happy resolutions, no hope. It makes you groan with despair, and you feel yourself going mad as you read it. I seldom read any book that made me more achingly unhappy. It is a masterpiece' A.N. Wilson, Financial Times. — Financial Times
'Original, moving and beautifully translated and produced' The Guardian. — Guardian
'Most impressive of all is the sheer force of the narrative and the language in which it is relayed' Independent. — Independent
'Trieste is a massive undertaking, both for the author and the reader. It swings from stomach-churning but compelling testimonials from former concentration camp workers to fluid fictional prose' Irish Independent on Sunday. — Independent on Sunday
'At its best, Trieste achieves a factographical poetry, superbly rendered by Ellen Elias-Bursac, implying that no one in Axis-occupied Europe stood more than two degrees from atrocity' TLS. — TLS