IMPOSSIBLE by Erri De Luca
Translated by N.S. Thompson
An ageing revolutionary-turned-informer plummets to his death from a particularly dicey ridge in the Dolomites. It is the kind of accident that would hardly raise an eyebrow except that there is another figure spotted some distance behind him - also ageing, also a former revolutionary. The very man on whom the dead man informed. Impossible is a taut interrogative (and sometimes epistolary) novel in which a prosecuting magistrate attempts to trap the accused in a net of circumstantial evidence. The coincidence seems too great.
The crime fiction aspect is, however, window dressing. For all its narrative tension, Impossible concerns itself much more with questions of nature and solitude - whether it be through incarceration or in the absolute freedom of the mountains - than it does with reaching a satisfying conclusion for crime buffs. Hell is other people, it seems to echo, especially when you’ve spent a chunk of your life ground down first by the passion of ideology and then by the machinery of state. The only escape from judgement, from expectations, from personal history, De Luca suggests, lies in the treacherous terrain of unspoilt hills. Where maybe, just maybe, you’ll push your past off a cliff.
Impossible by Erri De Luca (Tr. N.S. Thompson)
Mountain Leopard Press, 2022