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
Primo Levi (1919–1987) was an Italian chemist and writer, best known for his memoirs If This Is a Man and The Periodic Table.
Ann Goldstein, the translator of all of Elena Ferrante’s novels, is an editor at The New Yorker and a recipient of a PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
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.