A Tranquil Star: Unpublished Stories by Primo Levi (Translated by Ann Goldstein and Alessandra Bastagli) - review by Carole Angier

Carole Angier

The Inadequacy of Words

A Tranquil Star: Unpublished Stories


Penguin Classics 166pp £20

This month it will be twenty years since Primo Levi died. It’s hard to believe. But at least we will be getting a new and (at last) complete translation into English of his Collected Works, of which these stories are a sample. It is a small but welcome consolation.

My main regret is that it is, of course, an American publisher who has taken this on, not a British one. The American flavour of the text makes it feel as though it is still written in a foreign language, left on our doorstep like a foundling, instead of being laid sweetly in our arms. Still, the foundling is worth it; and I aim this complaint at the British publishers who did not take on the project, rather than at the excellent American publisher, Norton, who did. 

A Tranquil Star is short, only 166 pages and seventeen stories long. Seventeen is a decent number (though not in Italy – Lilit had thirty-six), but there could surely have been more. And I wonder what criterion Norton used to pick this particular seventeen. In my view only half a

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend