Buzzati’s short (and very short) stories are dark little gems that stab, nag, itch, twitch and otherwise make the reader squirm in their chair. The back cover perfectly nails the Italian author’s deliciously disturbing stories with this description: ‘with hints of Kafka and Edgar Allen Poe.’ Bingo. If you like these authors, you’ll love these stories.— Kay Wosewick
In Catastrophe, the renowned Italian short story writer Dino Buzzati brings vividly to life the slow and quietly terrifying collapse of our known, everyday world. In stories touched by the fantastical and the strange, and filled with humor, irony, and menace, Buzzati illuminates the nightmarish side of our ordinary existence.
From “The Epidemic,” which traces the gradual effects of a “state influenza” that targets those who disagree with the government, to “The Collapse of Baliverna,” where a man puzzles over whether a misstep on his part caused the collapse of a building, to “Seven Floors,” which imagines a sanatorium where patients are housed on each floor according to the gravity of their illness and brilliantly highlights the ominous machinations of bureaucracy, Buzzati’s surreal, unsettling tales reckon with the struggle that lies beneath everyday interactions, the sometimes perverse workings of human emotions and desires, and, with wit and pathos, describe the small steps we take as individuals and as a society in our march toward catastrophe.
With hints of Kafka and Edgar Allan Poe, Catastrophe, published for the first time in the United States, feels as timely today as ever.
“Each of these stories is steeped in terror. Buzzati is the gatekeeper to our collective nightmares, poised on the threshold between the drawing room and existential hell. Judith Landry’s vibrant translations render him at once witty and sinister.”
“Out of a gothic tale…Frightening, lyrical, and provocative.”
“Weird, wild, and wonderful…There are shades of Fellini, shades of Dickens, shades of the great Italian horror director Mario Bava.”
“An extraordinary writer…[Buzzati’s] writing feels timeless.”
“[A] fantasist and moralist in the vein of Kafka and possessed of a bold inventive power that shows his kinship with such other unconventional spirits as Poe, Gogol, Borges, Donald Barthelme, and his countryman Italo Calvino.”
“Twenty riveting stories . . . Some of Buzzati’s stories have the delicacy of fairy tales. . . Other stories have the visceral thrust of horror fiction. . . Buzzati’s varied and immensely satisfying stories will appeal to readers receptive to the possibility of the bizarre behind the banal.”
“An evocative collection that might pull the rug from under your feet.”
“[These stories] capture something of the national mood. They portray delicate psychologies, and are themselves psychologically delicate, full of premonitions and subtle turns.”