Baricco’s short Book “Without Blood” takes place in an unnamed Latin country after an unnamed civil war, maybe Spain, maybe Southern America. At the end of the war vengeance is in the air. In the first half of the book Nina, an eight year old girl lives through the violent murder of her family whilst hidden below the floor boards, the role of her father in the dirty war is mentioned.
During the attack Nina is discovered by the young Tito who, feeling sorry for the young girl and thinking the rest of his band would kill her, gives the all clear and leaves her hidden, only to be devastated when the building is then wilfully destroyed by fire.
Fifty years later as Tito is an old man, a lady he just knows is Nina presents herself to him. All of the other people present that fateful day have been since killed. We are then shown two contrasting interpretations of Nina’s life, before under lifelong crippling guilt Tito accepts the fate Nina has prepared for him and Nina must decide between revenge or pardon, her choice comes in the last page of the book.
This carefully written book reminded me in its blurred edges and descriptive manner of Dino Buzzati’s Tartare Steppe. An easy read.
First published in Italian as Senza Sangue by Rizzoli in 2002
Translated into English by Ann Goldstein and published in 2004 by Knopf
Translated into French by Françoise Brun and published in 2003 by Albin Michel