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I'M STAYING HERE by Marco Balzano


by Marco Balzano ; translated by Jill Foulston

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2020
ISBN: 978-163542-037-1
Publisher: Other Press

The (now) seemingly idyllic Italian region of the South Tyrol serves as the backdrop for the decades of tumult—personal and political—recounted to an absent daughter in Balzano’s saga of politics, war, and engineering.

Trina enjoys a fairly uneventful life, despite a strained relationship with her mother, in the agrarian South Tyrol until her adolescent dreams of becoming a teacher are thwarted with the arrival of Mussolini and fascist control of the region. Despite the restrictions placed on the Germanic residents of the area and rumors of a long-planned dam project revived by Mussolini, Trina’s family and her husband, Erich, opt to remain in their homeland. As the Second World War approaches and the region becomes a deadly pawn in the expansion of Hitler’s Reich, Trina’s rapidly disintegrating family suffers unimaginable hardships which are exacerbated to a hideous degree during the war itself. The miseries endured by the region’s residents do not stop with the end of the war, and Balzano’s stoical narrator continues with the litany of indignities visited upon them. As if a war were not enough to endure, the constrained roles of women within a traditional agrarian society leave little room for disagreement with male decision-makers. Trina’s long-held belief that words could save her is tested by vicious forces, some within her extended family (who assault her with actions stronger than words). Trina’s matter-of-fact narration maintains a steady tone while recounting decades of inhumane circumstances to a ghostly lost daughter. While the catalog of insults may appear unending to some, Balzano illuminates a war waged upon the South Tyrol even after “the war” was over.

Balzano recites horrors in a cool, unvarnished tone, cataloging a life upended by war and, worse, by its remembrance.