Comapartment No.6 by Rosa Liksom


Compartment No.6 by Rosa Liksom

Finnish fiction

Original title – Hytti nro 6

Translator – Lola Rogers

Source -Review copy

The soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond, and must be polished, or the luster of it will never appear.

Daniel Defoe

Well when this dropped though my door ,it was one I put straight to the top of the pile ,I’ve enjoyed all the recent books from Finland ,That I’ve read have been gems ,plus I’ve always had a fondness for books set on trains so two ticks meant it was a must read .Well Rosa Liksom is a Finnish based writer ,she is also a well-known artist in Finland .She has written 13 other books ,this Compartment No.6 is the latest by her ,it won the Finlandia prize in 2011 .

When the station bell rang for the second time she saw a muscular ,cauliflower-eared man in a black  working mans quilted jacket and a white ermine hat and with him a beautiful dark-haired woman and her teenage son ,keeping  close to his mother .

When she first sees Vadim Nikolayevich Ivanov on the station platform at Moscow .

Compartment No.6 Follows a train ride from Moscow on the Trans Siberian ,an unnamed finnish girl boards the train ,she searches and finds an empty compartment and settles down ,then her silence is shattered when a grizzled looking fellow enters the carriage , He then starts talking to the girl and telling her the story of his life at first she is a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights not quite knowing what to do ,but as the train speeds through the russian hinterlands she warms to this rough diamond and maybe sees part of her own life in his stories ,as the train is stopped they experience the rough conditions of the Soviet era ,this is the late eighties ,initially the girls thoughts are on getting to Mongolia and see some cave paintings as she is an art student and meeting an old friend but as her and Vadium (the man ) ,grow see maybe sees her life in a wider view outside the life she grew up in .

The night speeds through the dark into dim morning , a dogged queue at the shrine of the WC , a dry wash among the puddles of pee ,sputum ,shame and sheepish looks ,shadows of steaming tea glasses in the window ,large flat cubes of Cuban sugar ,paper light Aluminium spoons ,black bread ,viola cheese ..

She captures life on the train so well the sights and sounds of Soviet life at that time .

Well this is one of those books you can tell came from a love of the writer ,it turns out the writer took a journey on the same train in 1986 ,where she herself shared a compartment with a Russian man .Rosa Liksom has the artist eye for detail so the little things of life in Soviet era Russia are caught so well .For me the story remind me of a very old friend that over the years I lost touch with but Like Vadium was a rough diamond ,yes I remembered my fist meeting Steve and thinking god this bloke is just awful he was a friend of a friend but then over the next few meeting ,I saw through the swearing tales of his very hard upbringing and got to know one of the kindest souls I ever met and regret losing touch with ,That said Vadium isn’t quite such a kind heart soul but he is more than he first appeared to the Girl and he is the person that opens her eyes on her world ,so like me with steve this is someone she will remember for the rest of her life .Rather like the last lines of  the film Stand by me ,a writer remember a friend and journey in younger life .

Have you a favourite book based on a train ?


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. culturemapping
    May 03, 2014 @ 09:51:22

    I don’t yet, but I will definitely think about it. What an excellent idea!


  2. Robin Mizell
    May 03, 2014 @ 15:16:08

    Thanks for introducing me to Rosa Liksom’s fiction. I’m intrigued.


  3. kaggsysbookishramblings
    May 03, 2014 @ 18:08:21

    Love the sound of this Stu (obviously, because of the Russian setting!) Train books are great – Stamboul Train by Greene is one of my favourites.


  4. naomifrisby
    May 03, 2014 @ 21:08:50

    I’m putting this on my list for WIT month. Sounds great.


  5. Jonathan
    May 04, 2014 @ 21:10:11

    I read, and liked, Rosa Liksum’s short story book ‘One Night Stands’ years ago. I’d almost forgotten about her – she was a post-punk author I believe. It’s good to see more available in English so I may have to check this one out. Thanks.

    Favourite book on train? Well, as I love Zola’s work I’ll have to suggest ‘La Bete Humaine’.


  6. jacquiwine
    May 07, 2014 @ 08:30:26

    Sounds interesting, Stu. I’m trying to think of a favourite book where the action takes place on a train…I love films set on trains; The Lady Vanishes, Strangers on a Train and Double Indemnity (which, to my shame, I’ve never read).


  7. Max Cairnduff
    May 20, 2014 @ 14:13:50

    It does sound rather good Stu. Will you read more by her do you thinK?

    There’s a wonderful and quite unique computer game set on a train, a murder mystery in Europe on the brink of the first world war. It’s a fairly unique work of art, quite unlike what most people think of when they hear the phrase computer games.

    Greene came to mind for me too with your question, though I’ve not yet read his Stamboul Train. I should do so.


  8. Trackback: The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel | Winstonsdad's Blog

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May 2014


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