A Tranquil Star : Unpublished Stories, Paperback Book

A Tranquil Star : Unpublished Stories Paperback

Part of the Penguin Modern Classics series

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Primo Levi was one of the most astonishing voices to emerge from the twentieth century.

This landmark selection of his short stories opens up a world of wonder, love, cruelty and curious twists of fate, where nothing is as it seems.

In `The Fugitive' an office worker composes the most beautiful poem ever with unforeseen consequences, while `Magic Paint' sees a group of researchers develop a paint that mysteriously protects them from misfortune. `Gladiators' and `The Knall' are chilling explorations of mass violence, and in `The Tranquil Star' a simple story of stargazing becomes a meditation on language, imagination and infinity.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Short stories
  • ISBN: 9780141188911

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A Tranquil Star is a collection of some of Primo Levi's unpublished or lesser known short works. Having only read a bit of Levi's more notable Holocaust-related writing, I was surprised at these clever and occasionally downright funny pieces of fiction with a satirical bent. The stories in this collection range from the macabre "The Death of Marinese" in which a prisoner of war conspires to sabotage his truck full of captors if he is to die anyway to "Buffet Dinner" an offbeat piece in which a kangaroo attends a dinner party.Levi's stories are populated with unlikely and imaginative scenarios from a world in which book characters exist only for as long as they are remembered; to a world in which higher level office workers are charged with inventing causes of death for people whose dates of death have been randomly pre-determined; to a fictional country struggling under the burden of censoring its writers and artists that eventually finds that those best suited to the work of censorship are animals, most notably, chickens. In the introduction, Ann Goldstein quotes Levi as writing, "In my opinion, a story has as many meanings as there are keys in which it can be read, and so all interpretations are true, in fact the more interpretations a story can give, the more ambiguous it is. I insist on this word, 'ambiguous': a story must be ambiguous or else it is a news story." This collection is a mere 162 pages long, but ideally should be read slowly to realize the many layers of meaning with which Levi has imbued even the shortest story. Each story is only a few pages in length, but Levi's writing leaves endless possibility for contemplation and interpretations of all kinds. To those who take their time with it, Levi's writing will reveal its rich humor, its deft social commentary, and its keen insight into human nature itself.

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