Geeking Out on Primo Levi — and Elena Ferrante — With a Master Translator

The great Italian writer Primo Levi is primarily known in this country for memoirs detailing his experiences in Auschwitz, his long journey home after the end of the war and his life as a chemist of Jewish descent in the quiet precincts of Piedmont. These books, published in America as “Survival in Auschwitz,” “The Reawakening” and “The Periodic Table,” give the impression that Levi was primarily a writer of Jewish trauma.

He wasn’t.

Or maybe it would be fair to say that he both was and wasn’t, but to limit him to this role in our literary culture is to belittle and distort the accomplishment of one of the great writers of the postwar years.

Read more: Forward

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