A book review from The Movie Snob.
Trieste, by Daša Drndić (2012). Drndić is a Croatian novelist and playwright, and this is a powerful and unusual novel about the Holocaust. The central character is Haya Tedeschi, an assimilated Jew who lives most of her life in a town on the fluid border between Italy and what eventually becomes Yugoslavia. She turns 20 during World War II, and she has an affair with a handsome German officer who is stationed nearby for part of the war. But the novel’s focus doesn’t really stay on her all that much; Drndić stuffs the novel with facts and digressions about World War II and the Holocaust, biographical sketches of various Nazis, and testimony from Holocaust survivors. She indicts the many bystanders who knew what was happening to the Jews passing through their cities and towns in railroad cars and did nothing. She indicts the Catholic Church for baptizing Jewish babies to save them from the Nazis but then refusing to return them to their parents after the war. There’s a lot of information about a secret Nazi project to increase the “Aryan race” by kidnaping promising-looking babies and then adopting them out to good German families. And near the end, Drndić instructs us about how 5,000 Norwegian women who had liaisons with Nazis during the war were sent to work camps after the war, and many of their babies were adopted out and subjected to all sorts of abuse. Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA was the daughter of such a liaison (although her mother moved to Sweden in 1946 and they avoided the abuse)! It is a powerful and disturbing book.