From Publishers Weekly
Holocaust memoirist Levi (1919–1987) also wrote small fiction sketches, reminiscent of contemporaries Dino Buzzatti and Italo Calvino, for periodicals, collected here and introduced by Goldstein. Of two realistic pieces that recall The Periodic Table
and Survival in Auschwitz
, one concerns the last minute in the life of a resistance fighter whose act against his German captors would today be called a suicide bombing. Transparent political allegories, of the kind that were fashionable in the Cold War period up to the late '60s, predominate. In the slighter of the 17 works, a miraculous paint is developed to replace lucky charms, and a Mad Max
–like look at sports of the future describes tourneys conducted between men armed with hammers and cars. "The Molecule's Defiance" concerns the inexplicable spoiling of a batch of synthetic chemical, eerie in its description of a monstrous, gelatinizing mass expanding rapidly in a reactor, as though revolting against its human makers. While these pieces (published in Italian from 1949 to 1986) don't really stand on their own, they shed further light on Levi's life and work. (Apr.)
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About the Author
A chemist by training, Primo Levi (1919–1987) was arrested as an anti-fascist partisan during World War II, and deported to Auschwitz in 1944. His books include The Drowned and the Saved, If This Is a Man and The Periodic Table. He died in 1987. Norton will publish The Complete Works of Primo Levi in 2010.
Ann Goldstein, an editor at The New Yorker, won the PEN Prize for Italian translation in 1993.
Alessandra Bastagli is the translator of Primo Levi's stories in A Tranquil Star and his essays in The Complete Works. She lives in New York.