For Solo Violin

A Jewish Childhood in Fascist Italy

Aldo Zargani

$ 15.95

Format Trade Paper
Pages 326
Size 5.38" x 8.5"
ISBN 978-0-9679675-3-0
Publication Date April 2002
Tags Biography/Memoir, Italy, Jewish Studies
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Translated from the Italian by Marina Harss

"For Solo Violin is a gracefully written, elegiac memoir of childhood."—The Los Angeles Times

"An eloquent tribute to [and] a moving account of those who, despite the cruelty of so many around them, found ways to rejoice and trust in the kindness of a few. One is instantly reminded of Life Is Beautiful."—André Aciman, author of Out of Egypt

In an extraordinary literary debut, Aldo Zargani reconstructs the lost world of his Jewish childhood during the perilous years 1938–45 when he and his family fled from Fascists and Nazis in northern Italy. His haunting memoir acquires a cinematic intensity as he crosscuts from the blood-red stone spires of Basel, where his father failed to find refuge for his family in 1939, to fiery scenes of the Allied bombing of Turin in 1942, to the freezing winter of 1943–44, which Zargani and his brother spent hidden in a Catholic boarding school deep in the countryside.

For Solo Violin is filled with colorful portraits of Italian aristocrats and peasants, priests and soldiers, teachers and students, informers and partisans. At its heart is Zargani's vivid depiction of his father, a concert violinist forced to give up his career when the Fascists came to power. In this time of persecution, the Zargani family survived through their own resourcefulness and through the efforts of the many Italians who came to their aid, from the young doctor who helped them escape from Turin to the shepherd who supplied them with milk during the last year of the war, when they lived among the partisans in a remote Piedmont valley.

Looking back over a distance of fifty years, Zargani rediscovers the enchantment of childhood shining in "fable-like constellations" even amidst the inferno of war. Lullabies and school games, fairy tales and family jokes are interwoven with the events of terror and oppression. Lyrical, humorous, tender, and wise, For Solo Violin is a testament to resilience and hope during the darkest period in human history.

"A broad panorama of Italian-Jewish history in [the last] century. Elegant in its style and, however tragic, also rich with understatement, irony, and wit, For Solo Violin counts among the great, enduring works of art."—Focus Magazine, Germany

"A tragic, deeply engaging, delicious book—yes delicious, too. (Reading it makes you smile.) It's a miracle…It makes one think of the wit of Kafka!"—L'Espresso, Italy

"Zargani depicts a wealth of sad, despairing, but often also incredibly funny episodes…But vibrating along with the humor is always the sense of threat, and behind it opens the abyss of terror."—Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Switzerland

Aldo Zargani was born in 1933 in Turin, Italy. For many years, he worked for RAI, the Italian broadcasting network. Per Violino Solo was first published in Italy in 1995 and won several literary awards, among them the Premio Acqui Storia and the Premio Ishia. Zargani now lives and writes in Rome.

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