Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Books
ISBN: 9781681377247
Pages: 232
Publication Date: March 14, 2023

Rombo

by Esther Kinsky, translated from the German by Caroline Schmidt

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In May and September 1976, two severe earthquakes ripped through northeastern Italy, causing severe damage to the landscape and its population. About a thousand people died under the rubble, tens of thousands were left without shelter, and many ended up leaving their homes in Friuli forever.
 
The displacement of material as a result of the earthquakes was enormous. New terrain was formed that reflects the force of the catastrophe and captures the fundamentals of natural history. But it is far more difficult to find expression for the human trauma, the experience of an abruptly shattered existence.
 
In Esther Kinsky’s novel Rombo, seven inhabitants of a remote mountain village discuss their lives, which have been deeply impacted by the earthquake that has left marks they are slowly learning to name. From the shared experience of fear and loss, the threads of individual memory soon unravel and become haunting and moving narratives of a deep trauma.

Praise

It reads cinematically; the cuts are determined and stylistic. . . .The book excels when it manages to balance the grand geology of its subject matter on the tiny gestures of daily life. . . . Rombo is staggering. There is something epic about it.
—Magnus Rena, Review 31

Kinsky expertly animates the natural world around her while removing her human hand. . . . If trauma is the inability to redescribe, Rombo offers a powerful antidote in language and the infinite possibilities of description.
—Matthew Janny, Financial Times

A tragic travelogue to the underworld-turned-world that recasts a newly lost Italian past with a climate-wise chorus straight out of the most harrowing Greek drama.
—Joshua Cohen

In Esther Kinsky’s new novel language becomes the highest form of compassion and solidarity — not only with us human beings, but with the whole world, organic, non-organic, speaking out with many mouths and living voices. A miracle of a book; should be shining when it gets dark.
—Maria Stepanova