FICTION

The Girl with the Leica

Europa. Oct. 2019. 364p. ISBN 9781609455477. pap. $18; ebk. ISBN 9781609455484. F
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Janeczek’s fictionalized biography of Gerda Taro (1910–37), one half of the photographer team known as “Robert Capa,” is set in Paris in the summer of 1937, amid the rise of fascism, Nazism, economic depression, antipathy toward foreigners, and the Spanish Civil War. Gerda, a 26-year-old German-Jewish expat and antifascist, is determined to document the conflict in Spain but becomes the first female photojournalist killed on the battlefield. Left to mourn Gerda are partner Endre Friedmann, who went on to claim the name Robert Capa; an old female friend; and two ex-lovers, including Dr. William Chardack, later known as the pioneer of the implantable pacemaker. Their remembrances of Gerda are told here in alternating chapters.
VERDICT This novel presents a chance to highlight Gerda’s story, her daring and accomplishments, and might have finally removed her from under Capa’s shadow. Instead, Strega Prize winner Janeczek (Bloody Cow), and translator Goldstein, deliver a work filled with impenetrable prose, scant action, and an unsatisfying portrait of a woman with a brief, if eventful and interesting life.

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