On August 12, 1999 an eight year-old girl, Laura, goes missing. Fourteen years later, long after all hope had been lost, she is found alive in a container truck. Luca is having dinner with his father, a well-respected anthropologist, when the police raids their home and arrests the man. The charges against professor Carlo Maria Balestri are extremely serious–could the face of Evil itself hide behind the mask of a renowned academic?
The nightmare doesn’t end with the arrest of the abductor. In fact, his capture marks the start of wholly new, fragile lives for the people affected by his crimes.
(Translated from the Italian by Clarissa Botsford)
Oxygen is one of the most quietly disturbing novels I’ve read this year, a contemplative and sometimes harrowing snapshot of the affect on several lives of one man’s horrific actions.
We follow Luca, who loves his father but has to reassess his whole life after his Dad is arrested for kidnap and murder. Then we have Laura who survives years in captivity and the strange half life she leads thereafter. Around these two several others circle, each suffering fallout to differing degrees.
The writing here gets right to you, the series of actions and consequences gently absorbing whilst also being horribly present. The characters are both ethereal and immediately vivid, what happens to them, their choices and what ensues over the course of the story is utterly riveting. You end up glued to the pages until the final, ironically unforgettable denouement.
The melancholy feeling that life is fragile, a passing of time that you never really grasp, is embedded into the entire narrative. Oxygen really isnt quite like anything I’ve read before and I have to highly recommend it.
You can purchase Oxygen (Europa Editions) Here.