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Sabine Gruber: Daldossi oder Das Leben des Augenblicks [Daldossi or the Life of the Moment]

de    en    fr    span    cz

Munich: Verlag C. H. Beck, 2016.
320 p.; hardcover; Eur (A) 22,60.
ISBN 978-3-40669740-1.

Sabine Gruber


Bruno Daldossi is a war photographer. He lives in Vienna, hails from South Tyrol, Italy, and has nearly retired from documenting disasters and war zones after almost thirty years. He has escaped with his life by the skin of his teeth several times and witnessed the deaths of friends who were fellow photographers.
Doldossi tries to bury his memories – of murder and demise; misery, boundless poverty, and displacement; shoot-outs and minefields; and maimed, traumatized, scarred-for-life children – beneath brutal cynicism, hard drinking, and short-lived affairs. His longtime partner Marlis, a zoologist and the director of a bear rescue center in the village of Zwettlburg, has recently left him. She fell in love with a schoolteacher from Venice and followed him there.
Daldossi decides to go to Venice and win Marlis back. He has only an approximate idea of her address there. Then he wakes up in a paid-for hotel room, having found Marlis. Actually, she has found him in a drunken stupor outside her house. Now things with her are over for good.
Previously, Daldossi has met a journalist named Johanna, the ex-wife of his former colleague Schultheiss. She is traveling to Lampedusa on assignment from a women’s magazine to write about women refugees. After the fiasco in the Floating City, he follows her there. When Johanna falls badly ill, Daldossi goes on a moped ride around the island, the well-known landing place of countless refugee boats from North Africa. In the end, he rents a small cutter himself and sets sail.
The novel is a psychological portrait of a man devastated by the world and what he has seen of it, a man without a leg left to stand on. Daldossi feels adrift. One part of the world is nothing but his photographic subject, while the other part, Central and Western Europe, is no longer home – only a superficial and deceptive pseudo-idyll for anyone who has suffered through the other world and lived to tell the tale. The two hemispheres no longer overlap, and his work as a camera-armed reconnaissance man has become superfluous.
Sabine Gruber’s novel is broad-ranging, finely composed, subtly written, moving, vivid – and unusually attuned to the pulse of its times.

Abridged version of the review by Alexander Kluy, August 2016.
English translation by Jake Schneider.

Full German text:

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