I’m Staying Here

Written by Marco Balzano
Review by Edward James

Translations often give us insights into times and places we seldom encounter in our native literature. I’m Staying Here (Resto Qui) is translated from the Italian and set in the Alto Adige, on the Alpine borderland between Italy and Austria, following the life of a local woman, Trina, from the 1920s to the 1950s.

In the beginning it is the native German speakers who are oppressed by the Italian Fascists, breaking up illegal German classes such as Trina teaches, and deporting one of her friends. Nazi Germany becomes their liberator, only to hunt them in the mountains to press them into military service in a lost war, and finally the post-war Italian state literally wipes Trina’s village off the map to make way for a hydro-electric scheme.

The story is told in short chapters in Trina’s simple unadorned prose. Even though we know that the village is doomed, the story keeps its tension to the end, and we share in the villagers’ loss. This is very much a book about a place, and if you have never visited the Alto-Adige you will want to after reading this.