“I remain here”. The “Strega Prize” book which is punch in the stomach looking back in the Italian history

This book goes back to a very strong and hard period of the history in the Northern regions which are today bordered by Italy, Germany and Switzerland between the two world wars. We are in the area which is now around Bozen in a corner where we find the beautiful lake Resia up in the Venosta Valley (Alto Adige region).

The story starts in 1923 after the first world war and continues until a tragic end in 1950.

The protagonist is a young woman, Trina, who studied to be a teacher but at the time she can start teaching, the Government of Mussolini established a process of strict “Italianization” of the South Tirol where citizens felt Germans and spoke just German.

It meant for teachers that they had to teach in Italian and German became suddenly a forbidden language.

Trina was able to teach Italian but as a local woman she was excluded. Just the priest gave her the chance to teach in secret behind the church. She couldn’t be an official teacher in the Country and work for the State, have a salary and sustain her life.

She meets Erich, a rude but sweet man and they fall in love. They started their life in poverty with many familiar contrasts.

It was a very hard time for Italy and for these little villages. 

In Curon, a small village in Val Venosta, today in the province of Bolzano, life had passed almost unchanged for centuries, marked by the alternation of the seasons and traditional alpine jobs.

Trina and Erich are strong people but life puts them through a tough test.

They have two children: Michael and Marica.

The guy leaves the family very young and decides to become a Nazi being a rebel against the Italianization while Marica, in a dark night, is taken to Germany by the uncles and the parents will never see her again.

This will be for Trina the end of her existence while Erich, who seems to suffer less, dedicates his life to fighting against the great Edison project. 


After the 1st world war Mussolini started one of the biggest infrastructure projects for the region: building the big Montedison dam.

The valley was destined to become a big lake.

This is now what remains of their village.
Nowadays, It is one of the best known ‘tourist’ images of the Alps: the bell tower rising from the waters of Lake Resia.

The symbol of one of most tragic historical time
of Italian history.

Below this water there’s still the life of a generation who finished in 1950.

“I Remain here” is written in the form of a diary. A diary that Trina is keeping for her missing daughter… Trina is a character from another time. A simple, determined woman who never seems to lose her way, because the only way is the way of resistance.

Trina tells her adolescence, her walks with her friends, her first crushes… and her great passion for teaching. A fire that will never go out in Trina, not even when she decides to marry Erich, shy and silent.

Erich and Trina, in order not to bow down, choose (like so many other inhabitants) the path of escape. The harsh and cold mountains become their home. Gunfire and fear their travelling companions.

The writer

Marco Balzano è nato a Milano, dove lavora come docente di lettere e di scrittura. È sposato e ha due figli.

Dottore di ricerca con una tesi su Giacomo Leopardi, vincitore del Premio Centro Nazionale di Studi Leopardiani, esordisce nel 2007 con la raccolta di poesie Particolari in controsenso (Ed. Lieto Colle). Ha pubblicato su varie riviste (tra cui: Rivista di storia della filosofia, Rivista pascoliana, Lettere italiane, Giornale storico della letteratura italiana) articoli e saggi su Dante, Leopardi, Belli, Pascoli.

Nel 2010 pubblica il suo primo romanzo, Il figlio del figlio (Avagliano). Il libro viene tradotto in tedesco nel 2011.

Nel 2014 con Pronti a tutte le partenze (Sellerio) si aggiudica il Premio Flaiano per la Narrativa. Il libro viene tradotto in Francia nel 2015.

L’anno successivo, sempre per i tipi di Sellerio, pubblica il suo terzo romanzo, L’ultimo arrivato con il quale si aggiudica l’edizione 2015 del Premio Campiello. Il romanzo viene tradotto in Francia, Germania, Olanda e Spagna.

Nel 2017, per il venticinquesimo anniversario della morte di Paolo Borsellino, cura insieme a Gianni Biondillo la raccolta di racconti L’agenda ritrovata. Sette racconti per Paolo Borsellino, edito da Feltrinelli.

Nel 2018 cambia casa editrice e pubblica Resto qui, il suo quarto romanzo, con Einaudi; il libro si classifica secondo al Premio Strega e vince molti premi, tra cui il Premio Mario Rigoni Stern e il Premio Bagutta. Il libro viene tradotto in Francia, dove vince il Prix Méditerranée, in Germania, dove vende in pochi mesi centomila copie, e in altri ventotto paesi.

Article written by Erika Gerardini, JUMP Association.

Enjoy watching the book trailer. 

I remain here


Erika Gerardini JUMP Association



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