The Tartar Steppe

Written by Dino Buzzati
Review by Fenella Miller

The classic novel The Tartar Steppe was first published in 1938, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. It tells the story of Giovanni Drogo’s excruciatingly boring life on an isolated fort in the middle of nowhere. In this book Giovanni arrives full of hope that he’s starting a promising career in the Italian army, but he in fact spends year after tedious year executing mindless military routines. He manages to be promoted to major before he dies alone, old and sick, at the end of the book, having accomplished nothing.

This is no doubt a literary masterpiece, indeed it has already received countless glowing reviews comparing it to Kafka’s The Castle, calling it ‘a strange and haunting novel and an eccentric classic’. However it is certainly not a book for someone who wants a light, page-turning read or an entertaining book to take on holiday.