From Publishers Weekly
In Mazzantini's eloquent second novel translated into English (after Don't Move), Italian grad student Gemma travels to Sarajevo when it is still part of Yugoslavia for her doctoral thesis. Gojko, a maniacal Bosnian yo-yo salesman and poet, is her guide, and on the day she is to return to her fiancé in Rome, Gojko introduces her to Diego, an impulsive, young Italian photographer from Genoa with a criminal and heroin-using past, and they spend one impassioned night together. Gemma marries, divorces; she and Diego come together in Italy and marry as the situation in the Balkans begins to deteriorate while the couple suffer their own torment trying to conceive a child. Their efforts to have a child result in convoluted relationships arranged by Gojko in Sarajevo, where they return, years later, as the city is falling apart. Gemma returns alone to Rome with a boy, born in Sarajevo. She names him Pietro and raises him as her son with a new husband, Giuliano, after Diego's death. Twenty-four years after her fateful meeting with Diego, Gemma travels again to Sarajevo and into her past, wanting to show Pietro the country of his birth and where his father died. Mazzantini expertly weaves together her characters' stories, jumping backwards and forwards in time and place, from Italy to Sarajevo as the brutality of the Bosnian war melds with the beauty and complexity of Gemma and Diego's passionate romance. If the loose ends tie up too easily in the final chapters, a captivating secret maintains the story's integrity. Mazzantini's haunting novel, beautifully written and skillfully crafted, proves that despite the hatred exposed by war, love persists, and even flourishes. (May)
"This stunning novel about the nature of grief, love, and motherhood blew me away with the quality and depth of her haunting story." The Bookseller
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