Author: Daša Drndić
Genre: Historical Fiction
Blurb: Haya Tedeschi 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. 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.
Me: I am a huge WWII geek. As in I will read practically anything under the sun if it has to do with WWII. I've read a lot of war novels before, but this one blew everything else out of the water. It is truly a war novel like no other.
The Ups: Remember how I said Homegoing was the most ambitious novel I'd read this year? I lied...it's definitely Trieste.
This book borders on the line between non-fiction and fiction so often that I can't even tell which parts are fiction or non-fiction. There are SO many facts imbedded into the text, which is why a lot of readers grew tired of the book after a while. It was overwhelming, but I decided to stick with it, especially because the facts were essential in creating a large picture of how terrible and huge the impacts of Nazi Germany were and are on the world.
The general theme of the story, and a quote that is repeated multiple times, is "Behind every name, there is a story." In fact in the middle of the novel there is a list of 9,000 Jews who were deported from or killed in Italy between 1943-1945. There is also a section describing the lives of many German officers and their terrible actions, and what little/no punishment they received. The horror and injustice and anger is enough to make your head spin, but that is what is necessary.
Haya is referred to as a "bystander" of sorts, a citizen who turned her face away from all the terrible things happening to her friends around her. She, like so many others, is silent and doesn't speak up against the Nazi regime. Later, however, through her search for her missing son, it is shown that she is a victim as well; her son was stolen from her by the Catholic church to be used to purify the German race.
This is a story that is trying to bring truth to a historical event some people are trying to forget. It shows the collaboration of the Church and the government in prosecuting the Jewish, it shows the corruption and secrecy that stills goes on TO THIS DAY regarding documents, it shows, most importantly, how everyone is a victim when we forget, when we say: "It was too terrible, I don't want to hear about it."
It was certainly not an easy book to get through. It wasn't graphic or extremely disturbing, but it was just so packed with facts and truth that it was unsettling in that respect.
The Downs: I do think it is not an easily approachable novel form. I found myself wishing the plot would speed up, or being confused because I was skipping between German facts and Haya's story. I wish it was a little more approachable so its impact could reach more readers...but maybe without all its element it would not have been so powerful.
"I do not know certainty, at best I discover possibilities."
"If the experience of historical events is, in essence, the experience of the self, then to possess oneself means to possess everything."
"Behind every name there is a story."
Rating: 5 kisses!