The Bukowski Agency - Dante's War

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75,000 words
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Canada: Key Porter, Spring 2009

ABOUT SANDRA SABATINI

Sandra Sabatini (Photo: Trina Koster)
(Photo: Trina Koster)

Sandra Sabatini's first short story collection, The One With the News (Porcupine's Quill), inspired by her own father's battle with Alzheimer's, was shortlisted for the Upper Canada Writers' Craft Award. Her fiction has appeared in The Malahat Review, Prism International, and The New Quarterly, among others. She completed her doctorate in English Literature at the University of Waterloo. The Dolphins at Sainte-Marie, a book of short stories about her family life, was published by Penguin Canada in 2006. Sabatini lives in Guelph, Ontario, with her husband and five children, who range in age from 12 to 22.

Dante's War

by Sandra Sabatini

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, SANDRA SABATINI BRINGS TO LIFE THE EXPERIENCE OF WORLD WAR II FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF ORDINARY PEOPLE ON THE AXIS SIDE - TWO YOUNG ITALIAN LOVERS, DANTE AND ANGELINA

Dante's War coverIn the manner of the novels of Sebastian Faulks and Louis de Bernières, Sandra Sabatini renders a dramatic and tender tale that evokes empathy for the Other, the universal Enemy who looks suspiciously like ourselves. Replete with surprising, little-known historical details, such as Mussolini's mad plot to bombard Manhattan with lemons, Sandra Sabatini's polished, precise prose tells an unforgettable story, set in Italy and North Africa.

Sabatini's wry humour and her keen human interest bring to life an imaginative depiction of what a youth lived out under gigantic portraits of Benito Mussolini would have been like. Young Dante DiAngelis is drawn into the army on his quest to escape his overbearing parents. Sabino, his boyhood friend, follows him faithfully into enlistment and later onto the warfront. As mechanics on fighter planes and sometime pilots, Dante and Sabino are awakened to the brutality of modern war. Caught between his loyalty for his brothers-at-arms and his realization that his national pride and leaders have led him astray, Dante begins to question his involvement in the war's barren destruction and empty victories.

An unusual love story develops between Dante, whose reckless independence entraps him in the service of a dangerous ideology, and Angelina Fiori, who on the opposite end seems too young to be so disenchanted by the troubled times. Although they know little about each other and are divided by a great distance, Dante's courage and Angelina's steadfastness allow them to rise above their circumstances and join together in a symbiotic love.

Each of the lovers engages the battle where they find it. Dante encounters the elements and the enemies in the Northern Sahara and Angelina watches silently as the familiar Italian landscape becomes increasingly dark until the rage that builds up in her cannot be repressed. Dante's persistence in wooing Angelina, despite her apparent coolness toward him and lack of trust, is rewarded in small advances, small surrenders. Their love crescendoes as Italy is reborn into an era of security and optimistic rebuilding.

PRAISE FOR DANTE'S WAR

Dante's War is written in the fluid prose that derives from careful crafting. It lifts off the page like a song, both mythic and lyrical. A prize-worthy novel, it is a new take on an old war, both disturbing and profound, ethereal and earthbound. Like Angelina, who "was something the foaming sea would crest against," Sabatini shows remarkable strength and resilience in telling this captivating tale.”  — THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Dante's War is beautifully crafted and written. What I admire about it most is that Sandra Sabatini understands how things work: fearsome machines and weapons of war, national governments and small towns, and—most impressively—the human heart.”  — PAUL QUARRINGTON, award-winning author of The Ravine and King Leary

“Sabatini’s accomplishment is to show us with sympathy the lives of “enemy” soldiers and civilians, whose native suspicion and stubborn allegiance to the soil first endanger them and ultimately save them, from the ravages of other peoples’ wars.”  — NATIONAL POST

“During a bitter war, a sweet love story... Sabatini is a magician who makes innocence and experience coexist.”  — ANNABEL LYON, author of Oxygen and The Best Thing for You

Praise for Sandra Sabatini's The Dolphins at Sainte-Marie

“A wonderful collection. Sabatini's stories are superbly crafted, her characters vivid, their lives ultra-present and felt. Here are the fresh, piercing hurts and fast hardening revelations of growing up.”  — LISA MOORE, Giller Prize finalist for Open and Alligator

“A remarkable collection. Reading these stories is like re-entering a country you had only the vaguest memories of, with an unusually insightful chaperon as your confidant and guide.”  — MICHAEL CRUMMEY, author of The Wreckage and River Thieves

“The shock of the familiar is Sabatini's business; crispness, spareness, and sly humour are her tools.her stories glitter.a fierce and lovely collection.”  — ANNABEL LYON, author of Oxygen and The Best Thing for You

“It's all here: an empathy with characters.a sly sense of humour.a sharp eye for the minutiae.”  — MONTREAL GAZETTE

“Sabatini affirms the power of story.in shaping a community. She piles on the small observations of life, the ironies, disappointments, and delights, while evoking a direct response in her reader. This is a writer to watch.”  — QUILL & QUIRE

 

 

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