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Helena Janeczek, winner of the 2018 Strega Prize, revisits the 20th century from the beginning, reliving – from within every character – the yet unfinished past in an attempt to grasp their unresolved heritage.A polyphonic tale of normal, yet extraordinary characters, of true, peripheral or semi-known stories that prove how the time of unforseen events is also a time of possibilities worth investigatingThe Zanetta sisters arrive in a Milan buzzing with the 1906 world fair and subscribe to Socialist dreams, although the youngest is arrested for defeatism in the years immediately after Caporetto.In 1920 Trentino-Alto Adige the air is good for those with health conditions and Doctor K. thinks he is at the heart of a spying intrigue arising from the correspondence with his translator Milena Jesenská.In Venice, the daughter of the great American poet Ezra Pound wanders across the city unaware that she is being spied on by a boy with whom she shared her childhood.Finally, the young Albert O. Hirschman joins his sister and brother-in-law in Trieste, a city fuelled by the hedonistic, commercial spirit of its proudly Italian middle classes, those same middle classes that will shortly see their world struck by racial laws, like the most unthinkable and dreadful of unforeseen events.


Helena Janeczek was born in Munich in 1964 to a Jewish-Polish family. In 1983 she came to Italy, where she still lives. She is the author of Lezioni di tenebra (Premio Bagutta Opera Prima, published by Guanda in 2011), Cibo (Guanda 2019), Le rondini di Montecassino (Guanda 2010), finalist for the Premio Comisso and winner of the Premio Napoli, the Premio Sandro Onofri and the Premio Pisa. La ragazza con la Leica won the 2018 Strega Prize, the Bagutta Prize and the Premio Selezione Campiello.

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