The Millions

A Small Flame in the Dark: On Jenny Erpenbeck’s ‘Go, Went, Gone’

“People have always moved. The story of humanity is essentially a story of movement.”
Patrick Kingsley, The New Odyssey

Some of the romance of my life in Rome was the view out my apartment’s windows: two medieval churches, cobblestone roads, the Colosseum if I stuck my head out, and Colle Oppio park that rolled off the Esquiline Hill. The park’s current manifestation was envisioned by the Fascists, and it’s easy to find fasces scraped from fountains when you know what to look for. Perhaps starting a week after it opened, the park has suffered the usual Italian neglect. Long grasses scratch at trellises meant for flowers, a bare-bottomed fountain makes a good play-space for children and in August the grass burns to dust. Romans would go there to walk their dogs, tourists to see the ruins of‘s baths, and migrants to live.

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