Book Talk: I'm Staying Here: A Novel by Marco Balzano
“ A powerful memoir... Burks's spirited, straightforward prose balances the heartbreak of her story with just enough humor and toughness. A must-read for anyone interested in narratives of front-line responses to the early AIDS crisis as well as personal accounts of kindness and determination."
About the Book
A mother recounts her life story to her long-lost daughter in this sweeping historical novel about a community torn between Italian fascism and German Nazism.
In the small village of Curon in South Tyrol, seventeen-year-old Trina longs for a different life. She dedicates herself to becoming a teacher, but the year that she qualifies—1923—Mussolini’s regime abolishes the use of German as a teaching language in the annexed Austrian territory. Defying their ruthless program of forced Italianization, Trina works for a clandestine network of schools in the valley, always with the risk of capture. In spite of this new climate of fear and uncertainty, she finds love and some measure of stability with Erich, an orphaned young man and her father’s helper.
Now married and a mother, Trina’s life is again thrown into uncertainty when Hitler’s Germany announces the “Great Option” in 1939, and communities in South Tyrol are invited to join the Reich and leave Italy. The town splits, and ever-increasing rifts form among its people. Those who choose to stay, like Trina and her family, are seen as traitors and spies; they can no longer leave the house without suffering abuse. Then one day Trina comes home and finds that her daughter is missing…
Inspired by the striking image of the bell tower rising from Lake Resia, all that remains today of the village of Curon, Marco Balzano has written a poignant novel that beautifully interweaves great moments in history with the lives of everyday people.
Reviews & What Readers Say
“ A novel that builds with every chapter, as happens with talented storytellers. Although set in another era, [I’m Staying Here] speaks to our current tumultuous times: borders, migration, ethnic conflicts, abuse of power over ordinary people, authoritarian impulses."
“ Quietly devastating…Balzano’s unvarnished approach heightens the poignancy of a story based on real events."
“ With its theme of resistance and its succinct style, without an unnecessary adjective, [I’m Staying Here] recalls the best examples of Italian neorealism."
“ A heartbreaking historical novel about the effects of extraordinary events on ordinary people"
I'm Staying Here: A Novel by Marco Balzano
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