A Brutal But Spellbinding Story of a Family Torn Apart During World War II in Italy


Trieste is a novel about Haya Tedeschi, an old woman who sits in her home in northeastern Italy with her newspaper clippings and photographs. She has spent her life pouring over information, hoping to find her son, fathered by a SS Officer 62 years ago. Her son was taken from her by German officials, as a part of Himmler’s Lebensborn project, and has missed him ever since.

Reminiscing on her life as a Catholicized Jew, she deals with the haunting horror of the Italian Jewish massacre at the concentration camp in Trieste. The search for her son has brought her to maps, photographs and Nuremberg trials and testimonies that document in almost unbearable terms about the terrible events that occurred around her. In powerful language and innovative literary devices,Trieste documents the brutal reality of a life surrounded by tragedy and obsession over finding her lost son.

This book is an extremely important contribution to the study of World War II. It documents using fiction the fact of the tragedy at the little known concentration camp of Trieste. It uses dramatic photos, the Nuremberg trials and testimonies, and a list of all the 9000 Jews and political outcasts murdered at the death camp. Those literary devices allow us to search with Haya in her search for her son in an extremely close manner. Trieste develops a relationship between the reader and Haya, and also develops emotions to the ghosts of the murdered Jews that haunt Haya when she begins to realize her oblivion to the massacre that occurred all around her. Trieste is an addition to the study of World War II and brings emotion and relationship to a cruel and devastating era that haunts our society to this day.


Dasa Drndic is a distinguished Croatian novelist, playwright, and literary critic. She spent some years teaching in Canada and gained a MA in theater and communications as part of the Fulbright program. She teaches in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Rijeka. She lives in Rijeka, Croatia.

Translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac, who is the leading translator of Serbo-Croatian writing into English.

(Credit for author bio to the book itself, and the book photo is credited to the Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, the publisher’s, website)


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