The Reprisal by Laudomia Bonanni
A Novel

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The Reprisal drags wartime cruelty out of the shadows. This translation should do the same for Laudomia Bonanni’s fierce fiction.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

In the bitterly cold winter of 1943, the Italian countryside is torn apart by violence as partisans wage a guerilla war against the occupying German army and their local fascist allies. In the midst of this conflict, a ragtag group of fascist supporters captures a woman in the late stages of pregnancy. Suspecting her of being in league with the partisans, they hastily put her on “trial” by improvising a war tribunal one night in the choir stalls of the abandoned monastery that serves as their hide-out. This sham court convicts the woman and sentences her to die—but not until her child has been born. When a young seminarian visits the monastery and tries to dissuade the fascist band from executing their sentence, the absurd tragedy of the woman’s fate is cast in stark relief. The child’s birth approaches, an unnerving anticipation unfolds, and tension mounts ominously among the characters and within their individual psyches.          


Based on a number of incidents that took place in Abruzzo during the war, Laudomia Bonanni’s compact and tragic novel explores the overwhelming conflicts between ideology and community, justice and vengeance. The story is embedded in the cruel reality of Italian fascism, but its themes of revenge, sacrifice, and violence emerge as universal, delivered in prose that is at once lyrical and brutal.
In her native Italy, Bonanni, a writer of journalism and critical prose as well as fiction, is hailed as one of the strongest proponents of post-war realism, and this is the first of her novels to be made available to Anglophone readers. Translators Susan Stewart and Sara Teardo render Bonanni’s singular style—both sparse and emotive, frank and poetic—into readable, evocative English.

 

About Laudomia Bonanni

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Laudomia Bonanni (1907-2002) was one of the preeminent Italian writers of the mid-twentieth century, and this is her first book to be translated into English. Susan Stewart is the Avalon Foundation University Professor in the Humanities and director of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University. A former MacArthur fellow, she is the author of many books, including the poetry collections Red Rover and Columbarium, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and most recently, a work of prose entitled The Poet's Freedom. Sara Teardo is a lecturer in the Department of French and Italian at Princeton University.
 
Published March 29, 2013 by University of Chicago Press. 172 pages
Genres: History, War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Reprisal
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jun 10 2013

It is a travesty that English language readers have been denied this profound, gritty novel for so long as it raises serious questions about humanity's ability to justify violence.

Read Full Review of The Reprisal: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Janice Durante on Mar 29 2013

The Reprisal drags wartime cruelty out of the shadows. This translation should do the same for Laudomia Bonanni’s fierce fiction.

Read Full Review of The Reprisal: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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