Novella a Day in May 2022 No.1

It’s always with some trepidation that I start a Novella a Day in May project. Last year I couldn’t face it at all (pandemic testing my resilience, work pressure, cat deaths taking a toll – even so I know I’ve been very lucky). But I seem to be able to read more now, so fingers crossed…

Also, I never run NADIM as an event because I never thought anyone else would want to undertake such a task, but I’m delighted that this year I will be joined by Simon at Stuck in a Book! So do join us for lots of novella love 😊

Away we go!

Without Blood – Alessandro Baricco (2002, trans. Ann Goldstein 2004) 87 pages

Without Blood is a short, sharp shock. It opens with a brutal, bloody and deadly attack on Nina’s family when she is a small child.

Men arrive at the remote farmhouse where she lives with her father and brother. Her father helps her to hide  in the cellar, but she hears them accuse him of the torture of prisoners during the (unnamed) war.

“Nina closed her eyes. She flattened herself against the blanket, and curled up even tighter, pulling her knees to her chest. She liked to be in that position. She felt the earth, cool, under her side, protecting her – it would not betray her. And she felt her own curled up body, folded around itself like a shell.”

Her brother fires a gun at the men and is killed. One of the soldiers, a young man called Tito, sees Nina under the trapdoor and keeps quiet. Nina is taken in by a local man who then bets her away at cards when she is a teenager. Adult Nina devotes herself to revenging the death of her family.

Barrico raises a lot of big questions in this novella but wisely doesn’t attempt to find answers. The nature and purpose of war; who is guilty and to what extent; the brutalisation of humans; the justification and consequences of violence; revenge versus redemption…

“There were a lot of things we had to destroy in order to build what we wanted, there was no other way, we had to be able to suffer and to inflict suffering – whoever could endure more pain would win, you cannot dream of a better world and think it will be delivered just because you ask for it.”

When Nina finds Tito fifty-two years later, it is not easy to predict what will happen. They have both been irrevocably changed by the events of that night, events which have overshadowed the rest of their lives and bound them together throughout their separation.

“The man thought the way she spoke was strange. As if it was a gesture she wasn’t used to.”

It is a quick read in length but Without Blood invites longer consideration.

25 thoughts on “Novella a Day in May 2022 No.1

  1. Mme B, I always enjoy your novella reviews. Lovely to see you back (and to hear that Simon is partnering too) 😊 Whatever you manage to post will be worthwhile. This opening choice sounds dark and sombre but captures what I love about the genre – the capacity to capture so much in so few pages.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. How wonderful that you feel able to do this again this year. I’m so pleased that you feel up to it, and pleased for all of us devotees too because it is always such a brilliant project. I may be able to contribute one or two offerings during the month, but mostly I’ll be looking forward to swelling my TBR list with all your fabulous recommendations! 👏🏻😀💕

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is an excellent reading challenge, I didn’t know you were doing it again. I am reading too slowly for a novella a day, but I do enjoy novellas so looking forward to seeing what you read. No doubt some will end up on my wish list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ali, I hope you see some that appeal – I’m sure Simon will tempt you with his choices too! I’m hoping I’ll manage a post for #DDMReadingWeek too, but if I don’t I’m really looking forward to seeing what everyone reads.


  4. Pingback: Murder on the Second Floor by Frank Vosper (Novella a Day in May #1) – Stuck in a Book

  5. So glad you’re doing this again – back in the reading and blogging zone! Sounds like a particularly grim one to start with though – not sure I could cope with the horrors of war fictionally at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My question is: do you read and review a novella a day, or do you plan ahead a little? There’s no way I could read and review in one day – unless I took a month off work 😉 But with others joining in, it kind of takes the pressure off (I’m thinking that on any given day, one of you will have posted a review).


  7. So dark and yet so very relevant. What is the point one wonders, for the ones that suffer aren’t for the most part anything to do with the war, and really however much of a revolutionary change sought to be brought up, things seem to slip back into the old ways over and over.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was wondering too, how do you do it? Last year in November I read 14 novellas and planned to review each of them and I could not even do that. I am reading slower and blogging at a slower pace, but even 10 years ago I don’t think I could do one a day.

    Regardless, I will enjoy reading the novellas you and Simon read, I am always keeping track of novellas (and / or very short novels) for future reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do try and give myself a bit of a head start – Simon is much more impressive than me, he reads and writes about them on the same day, whereas I try and have some ready in advance for unforeseen circumstances! I find if I’m in the mood I can write quite quickly, but the last few years have been a struggle for sure. Now I’m feeling more able, I’m trying to take advantage of the feeling before it wears off! I think we need to not pressure ourselves though, whatever the reading/blogging pace is, it’s fine.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, I really hope you enjoy mine and Simon’s posts over the month.


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