In 1987 the Italian writer Primo Levi fell to his death in the house where he was born. More than 40 years after his rescue from a Nazi concentration camp, it now appeared that Levi had committed suicide. Levi’s writings, including his account of his time in Auschwitz, If This is a Man, incisively interrogate our recent moral history, conveying profoundly the horror of the Nazi genocide. He is among the foremost writers of our time.
Ian Thomson’s ‘true and perfect’ biography, reissued in 2019 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Levi’s birth, unravels the strands of a life.
Ian Thomson was one of the last to interview Primo Levi. He is an expert on Italian literature and is the recipient of the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize and the W. H. Heinemann Award.
Simon May is visiting professor of philosophy at King’s College London. His latest books are Love: A New Understanding of an Ancient Emotion and The Power of Cute. He has written for the Financial Times and The Washington Post, among other newspapers.
In association with the TLS.