x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Trieste: uncomfortable but necessary window on Nazi era

Dasa Drndic's novel is an intricately woven exposition of the erosion of identity under Adolf Hitler's regime.

Trieste is not so much a story about the loss of a child as it is an intricately woven exposition of the erosion of identity under the Nazi era. Dasa Drndic takes sufficient liberties with conventional narrative techniques to recreate three generations of bystanders, a family of Catholicised Jews, who live under the shadow of Hitler's ever- encroaching regime.

While not privy to the full brunt of the horrors familiar to most of Europe during the Second World War, Haya Tedeschi does feel the weight of her Jewish compatriots' suffering bear down on her. After her infant son - an illegitimate child borne from an affair with a Nazi commander - is whisked away to be adopted by a pure-blooded German of the Fuhrer's liking, Haya's days succumb to flashes of memories catalysed by the history that unfolds from that point onwards.

Imposing as its themes are, Trieste does not fall into the trap of becoming defined by its settings. Humanity, its horrors, and ultimately its mistakes comprise this deftly crafted book by a keen observer. Not a comfortable read, but certainly not one to ignore.