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.

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