The dwarf by Pär Lagerkvist

Image result for the dwarf par lagerkvist

The Dwarf by Pär Lagerkvist

Swedish fiction

original title – Dvärgen

Translator – Alexandra Dick

Source – personal copy

When Simon and Kaggy announced the 1944 club, I searched the list of books published that year and this was one that jumped out at me especially when I saw the cover. Par Lagerkvist was a Nobel winner. He grew up in a house where the books he had to read were the Bible and the book of common prayer. But in later life he didn’t turn against religion he was a socialist but had a deep interest in what man his symbols and God. What man’s position is in that world. This book is a perfect example of what he did in a lot of his writing question what is good and Evil.

What abput the Prince ? Does he suspecgt nothing? or maybe everything?

It looks as thpugh the matter of her secret life did not exist for him. But cannot tell, with him one can never be quite sure of anything. He consorts with her in the daytime, and it seems as though he himself were daytime in person , for he is so utterly irrahited with the light of day. It is odd that such a person should be  beyond my comprehension – just he! but perhaps that is because I am his dwarfm and again – he does not understand me either !

This passage does make you wonder is Piccoline is just another side of the Prince .

The book is narrated from the point of view of the dwarf of the title he is the court Jester  Piccoline. He is in the court of an Italian Principality. He has the ear of the prince. He is also told secrets by other members of the court such as their lovers and who is doing what which gives him a greater insight into the inner workings of the town. But this little guy has a real twist of evil in him he is a true Machiavellian figure. The town they live in is in many a feud with the local towns. This is et in the 15th century Italy around the same time as some of the other villages built great big towers here they have hired Bernardo to do some painting (This character could be a version  Leonardo Da Vinci) The town could be Milan but the time and place isn’t ever really mentioned so for me it is just a mixture of tale of the time when Italy was made of small towns and states that were at constant battle what is the problem here is the dwarf they all see as just a jester in a way is twisting them and helps the prince when he has to poison someone for the Prince he does this as he hates the person but he hates everyone around him he isn’t the jovial figure they think he is as we see how he sees the downfall of his town and the violence he has in part he has unleashed.

I am no blasphemer. It was they who blasphemed, not I , but the prince had me clapped in irons for several days. The little jest had been intended to amuse, but I had to spoiled it all and the guests had been very upset, almost scared. There were no chains small enough so they had to be specially mad, and the smith thought it was a great deal of trouble for such a short sentence. But the prince said that it might be as well  tohave them another time. he let me go sooner than he had planned

Again is the dwarf real  and does the prince really see the dark side of him and what he has inside him .

I was drawn in by Piccoline narration of his life he is truly a dark figure. He is maybe more of a dwarf on the inside and that is the question is he a real figure or maybe just the dark side of the Prince of the town. His dark inner child in a way the acts and thoughts of Piccoline has that childlike way of seeing good and evil as he views the world as very black from his mere 26 inches. This is the reason I love events like 1944 club is they make you look out older books. I have always tried Nobel winners when I have seen their books around second hand so I would have got to Lagerkvist at some point but this coming out in 1944 meant I got to it sooner. Lagerkvist does seem to question through Piccoline what our actions are when we are faced with violence and conflict around us. A lost gem of world literature as this seems to be out of print at the moment!!

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The dog by Kerstin Ekman

 

The dog by Kerstin Ekman

Swedish fiction

Original title – Hunden

Translators – Linda Schenck and Rochelle Wright

Source – personal copy

I move to Sweden tonight and a fable of man and dog. Kerstin Ekman is one of the best known Swedish writers. She was the third female member of the Swedish Academy, but since a controversy over their reaction to Salman Rushdie, she hasn’t been an active member. She has won a number of awards including the Selma Lagerlof prize and the Nordic Council Prize. Her main body of work is crime fiction. So this book is different from her. It was also made into a short film.

A storm from the west is like a broom, a grey blast sweeping across lake and forest. Afterwards tere’s no trace of ski or snowmoble tracks, of animal or bird, no wads of snuff around the fishing holes, no bait, no blood. Everything is fresh, white and smooth.

Now, the morning after the storm, no one could see the tracks from the man on the snowmobile. The weather had cleared. The sun hadn’t risen and the sky shifted towards green as the day grew light. The silver of moon above the hill faded. Itr looked tenuous and tattered.

The morning when the pup wakes up after he lost his mother.

Now, this is an unusual book as it is told from the point of view of the dog of the title. We join him as a young pup as he follows his mother one winters day into the forest and he ends up losing here as they get caught in a snowstorm and he manages to sleep under a tree overnight and awakens alone and by himself in the world the dark foreboding forest of Sweden he is initially wary of every sound and shadow and movement he sees. We see this world of forest creatures and plants as he starts to find food and discover his way and which animals to follow like the fox for food. the scent of small creatures he can capture as the dog grows. This feral dog starts getting near to the men that live on the edge of the woods in the cabins first wary he smells them sees there dogs. But one starts to leave food and the last third of the book sees this timid feral dog remembering a past and is drawn towards the man will he come home to men or stay feral?

Slushy water and sour lingonberries. Feathers ion the moss, straggly odourless. Nothing but water in his aching stomach, wet paws in the marsh. Push on, push on, slow and soggy chew on feathers, suck on bones. Water dripping on nose, stinging eyes and aching belly. Traipse and trudge. Crouch with belly to the snow. Push on ith nose to the ground.Odourless water, meltwater.Hungerwater.

The moon creeps on the forest. The night is not silent it purls and ripples, it twitters and rustles. Up, keep goiung across pathy ground. Body uneasy, forest uneasy. Patches of moonlight and snow, patches of shadow and dark marshland.

SHe captures the world so well and the dog trying to get through it.

I picked this up as there wasn’t much ij my local Oxfam the day I visited and hadn’t considered reading it till today when I pulled it off the shelf and sat and read it in one sitting, What Kerstin does is draw the reader into the life of the dog the smells sounds and feel of the forest he is in is described in such touching detail as we see the frighten pup grow to a dog ravaged at times but living on his own it is only when he sees the man he starts to become a dog again and the man’s grey dog. This is a fable about nature the savage but beautiful side of nature how hard it is to survive but also in part about how we have to live with nature as we see the forest in the dog’s eyes the sight and sound he sees show him what is happening in the forest. It mixes the classic boy growing up against the odds and coming through. We also see the bond of man and dog. Yes, this is one for dog lovers if you like the incredible journey (the old film, not the j fox vehicle you will see the dog surviving in the wild). It also had some stark illustrations in the book that was linocut in style.

Love/war by Ebba Witt-Brattström

Love/War cover

 

Love/war by  Ebba Witt-Brattström

Swedish Fiction

Original title –  Århundradets kärlekskrig

Translator – Kate Lambert

Source – Review copy

I was lucky to get sent the second book from Nordisk books. After Havoc, I wondered what they would choose for the second book. They have chosen a modern novel that has a lot of style about it. It is written by Ebba  Witt-Brattström a well-known figure in Sweden for her feminist setting up one a feminist party in Sweden, which she has since left she is also a professor of Nordic Literature in Helsinki. This is her first book to be translated into English.

He said:

I duppose this morning

wasn’t worse

than usual.

It wn’t get

any better than this.

It’s far more probable

that from now on

goodwil

on either side

will decrease

by a few percentage points

a week.

I don’t know

what could possibly

turn that process

around.

The opening lines of the book show the husband as cold in his way as he accepts the way things are.

We have a novel that is in the form of two voices the two voice indicate just as he and she throughout the book. They are a married couple. what we see here is an unleashing of  two minds that in many ways are the same but due to a lifetime spent together there paths have gone in a classic mid 20th century marriage where the man has been allowed to take the lead and the “classic male role” and what we see is the pent-up anger of  the wife, but also a husband that  has allowed his wife not pursue her dreams and has over time underappreciated her role by calling her a pussy a sub. She has grown afraid of him the love that burnt so bright has turned to pure hate. The final nails in the coffin of a marriage seen in the last conversations they take at each other. Like two expert fencers diving in the point of a blade in the form of words trying to draw blood from one another.

She said

speak for yourself.

Ypur idealisation of

the woman’s feelings for the man

doesn’t seem to apply to the man’s

feeling for the woman.

Love is a story of a couple.

not the conditional submission

of one party

to the needs of the other.

BE WHITE MAN’S SLAVE

You are only enthralled

by the woman’s sacrifice.

you call that love.

My arse

She said:

Now I have dreamt two nights in a row

that I was happy and carried a knife in my hand,

a bloody knife, and my heart was as light as a bird

She puts her anger so well her the way she has felt like his slave during the later part of the marriage now she has seen love turn to hate.

I loved the detached nature of the voices. As the book unwinds we are given breadcrumbs of their lives as we gather what lead them to this position. I was reminded of Beckett in the voices .The way the work is just voices brought to mind the classic piece by him Not I, which was a female voice like this one that is full of bile of a lifetime of being put in her place this is the voice of a woman that has had her dreams spurned. This is the story of a marriage splitting, a battle voiced in words that has the feeling of being very real. the fact the writers own marriage broke up around the time this book came out it. The books original title in Swedish is a nod to another classic Nordic work that of the love of the century by Martha Tikkanen the Finnish writer.where a woman tries to voice her anger towards her alcoholic husband.

The White city by Karolina Ramqvist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The White city by Karolina Ramqvist

Swedish fiction

Original title – Den Vita Staden

Translator – Saskia Vogel

Source – review copy

I end this woman in translation month with another great  Nordic novel from a female writer this time the Swedish writer Karolina Ramqvist. Most of the best female writer I have enjoyed the last few years have been Nordic Lena Anderson and Therese Bohman both Swedish writers as well spring to mind. This book won the Per Olov Enquist lit prize in Sweden. Karolina Ramqvist has written novels short stories and essays. She has also been the editor in Chief of Dagens Nyheter. Her books have translated into many languages this is her debut in English.

He’d been the one who’d wanted to have kids. He had whispered his wishes in her ear. Suggesting a new direction for them, an opportunity. Word after Word, long decriptions of how he loved her and what it would be like to have another her, wh was also one of him .

For him, the idea of a child was a window opening; for her it was one closing. She thought of all the women she’d seen stand before their men, holding out their children and pleading for them to change rheir ways.

Dream was more his idea than her Idea.

 
This is a modern tale in a way, one of greed but what happens when greed leads to Crime. This is the story of one woman after that happen, Karin, She married to John. A man who gave her social status with his money. But it turns out he was on the wrong side of the law and now she is alone in her huge home. That isn’t going to be her home much long as the vultures are circling her life of high spending is over. She has very little time to sort out the future for her, but she also has her baby Dream one they had planned together. But she has now left Holding the baby as John is gone. She is trying to reach out to friends and family to stop losing everything to the government. 
She lay on the sofa with Dream. The sky was heavy and the air was too; it felt as thick as fog. She didn’t know how man days had gone sice she’d last gone outside.
She pushed the blanket and robe to one side and positioned herself so he r nipple nudged dreams round cheek. Eyes closed, she opened wide and turned her head, taking the breast in her mounth and pressing her tiny hand against it so it would empty more quickly.
Dream and her alone in the house for days on end
 
This is the tale of what happens when the good times go and the wife is holding the baby as her world a. she knows is crumbling around her. This like the other Nordic novel I have read by Swedish female writers. It is about strong female voices even thou her world is falling apart and her baby is still being breast fed. she is managing to keep it all together. A tale of what you do when those nearest have betrayed you and left you hanging and you were oblivious to it all going on around you. A woman her baby and the bad weather drawing in and trying to keep her warm and feed. Whilst the cold draws in the large house, even down to stealing the neighbour’s wi-fi. Ramqvist makes the weather feel cold as winter draws in around the former family home that she has little time left in. 

 

The other woman by Therese Bohman

The Other Woman by Therese Bohman

As I said in yesterdays covers post, I have read a couple of great books from Sweden by female writers this year, this being one of them the other being Wilful disregard by Lena Anderson which I reviewed earlier in the year. It was because I enjoyed wilful diregaerd so much I choose to review this from Other press.Also two great books from world editions from sweden as well it has been a great year for Swedish fiction on the blog .

The other woman is a take on being the other woman like it says on the cover. This is story of the affair told from the female perspective , we see this affair start and how it slowly grows through her eyes. The two main characters work in a hospital , she is a general dogsbody in the kitchen and he is a doctor , she finds out his name  Carl Malmberg and also that he is married  . He captures her eye one day and then they begin to spiral near each eventually coming together in a bang. The affair begins as they meet in secret, but is it all she hoped are dreams and reality the same

Occasionally I have wondered what it would be like to have an affair with one of them. particularly the tall handsome consultant who comes in for lunch all too rarely. I have thought about where we would meet, imagined him at home with me, even if the idea of him in my tiny apartment among my things is an unlikely scenario.I picture him sitting on my sofa, we are drinking a glass of wine , chatting. Perhaps we are discussing literature, which turns out to be a shared passion.

She daydreams of meeting Carl after seeing him where she works .

It is easy to see this as a standard love affair, which has been covered many times in fiction from The end of affair one my favourite Greene novels , through books like Lady Chatterley’s lover, which for me is like this book accept the roles are flipped the male is the one in the role of authority and the narrator is the lowest of the low in this world they live in. Also wilful diregard saw a may to december romance which this novel  is as well.What makes this stand up is the narrator’s voice and the overall world we are drawn into where even in a modern setting Class and social standing still there like in Lawrence’s day.

We get out of the car, he locks it, and we dash through the rain to the apartment block and , inside, over to my door. He stands behind me as I open up, I can feel his eyes on my back. I have rarely felt more present in the moment, I register everything – the grain of the wooden door frames, his scent, the key sticking slightly in the lock before it turns – while at the same time I am acting entirely on instinct .

The dream now is real he does come to her apartment .

For me the main character the unnamed narrator of the book is more than we first see , yes she works in the kitchen .But this woman is one that reads important books ,  she talks about the books she readsones like, notes from underground , Death in Venice and even the huge Magic Mountain she describes how on a course she sees everyone around her reading what she call banal books compared to her. She is a woman wanting to be more than a partner in bed, which it turns out is what she has become.We see a ugly duckling  wanting to be a swan in the world can see do it ?

He is a perfectly ordinary lover too. After I have asked him if he wants to come back to my place, and we have stood outside my door drunkenly searching for topics of conversation to fill the time between both of us thinking that we want to kiss each other and actually doing so, and we have kissed our way through the hallway and into bed, he makes love to me in a way that is kind of functional .

No books to discuss and no fireworks with Carl really .

Add to this a confident of the narrator called Alex , whom she starts to tell about the affair but is this Alex all they seem ? Then there is also the senses that Bohman does so well to ignite through her prose which in Marlaine Delargy translation come through so well. Also the sense of a detached style I have found a lot the last few years in Nordic fiction we almost look into this world of class, love, social standings like a voyeur feeling part of it but not able to touch it .Carl maybe see her as an object in a way even in the way he picks something for her to wear at one point. But for the narrator there is a whole other story and this affair is maybe just the start of her real life .This is Therese Bohman second novel to be translated to English I will be seeking out her first Drowned to read.

Have you a favourite female writer from Sweden ?

Swedish fiction

Translator – Marlaine Delargy

Source – review copy .

 

She is not me by Golnaz Hashemzadeh

She Is Not Me

She is not me by Golnaz Hashemzadeh

Swedish fiction

Original title – Hon är inte jag

Translator – Katarina tucker

Source – review copy

Two ways to choose,
On a razor’s edge,
Remain behind,
Go straight ahead.

Room full of people, room for just one,
If I can’t break out now, the time just won’t come.

Two ways to choose,
Which way to go,
Decide for me,
Please let me know.

Looked in the mirror, saw I was wrong,
If I could get back to where I belong, where I belong.

I choose joy divison as the first lines of the something must break capture the daughters life on a razors edge .

Last month I review a storm blew in from paradise , another swedish novel about the refugee experience that one was about the trip of coming to a country and how the next genration deals with it . Anyway World edition the publisher  said they had another book from Sweden about being a refugee they felt I may enjoy as well . They sent me this the debut novel from Golnaz Hashemzadeh , she arrived in Sweden when her family fled Iran as a child .She studying at the Stockholm school of Economics , she was the eighth woman to study there and the first to be president of the students ,She has worked in finance and set up the non profit Inkludera invest a company that invest in social enterprise and ideas in Sweden .

In the beginning Mama and the Girl were joined at the hip. She sat on the toilet seat while mama showered in the mornings. Mama sat on the floor next to the desk with her strong tea while the Girl did her schoolwork. They changed together when it was time for the night shift at the nursing home. Mama changed into her nurse’s uniform , the Girl into he pyjamas .

They were close once but life draws them apart.

She is not me is maybe mirrored by Golnaz own experiences in a way it follows the fortunes good and bad of a family from Iran that have arrived in Sweden, we see the parents dreams of this new freedom not come quite the way they wanted them to end as they don’t quite fit in their new homeland .So it is their daughter who they start to push getting her in the best school .The daughter unnamed within the book is the main character as we she how she gets in school but finds she has to change who she is as a person and as she does we see how she struggles to fit in and how that affects her as a person as she walks a tightrope between what her family want her to be and what her peers want her to be .The point comes where tis has a long term effect on her .

Papa was the one who found the Elite School. He understood tha elite meant taking advantage of opportunities, that elite was the result of dreams and hard work, Papa understood that she should elite . He placed the pink business paper next to her physics books , circled photos and headlines .

All of them attended the Elite School

The father pushes her to become the best she can , but maybe to hard at times as she bends to fit in .

 

This is the story we don’t often see  on the news or in papers , we she people arrive in a new country and then see the next generation maybe. But what about the kids and families that arrive their .What happens to them , I not read many stories about that Golnaz captures well what a struggle it must be to try to stay in one world with your parents the world they escaped, but never quite leave in their minds .Where as she is of the world she has come to but not fully so she is caught with a foot in each camp being Iranian but growing up swedish but also wanting to be accepted by her peers .This is a real struggle and this is what Golnaz captures so well the emotions of growing up a divide soul .

Have you read a book about living in a new country after you escaped tyranny ?

 

A storm blew in from paradise by Jonannes Anyuru

A storm blew in from Paradise by Johannes Anyuru

Swedish fiction

Original title – En storm kom från paradiset

Translator – Rachel Wilson -Broyles

Source – review copy

Father
It’s not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You’re still young, that’s your fault,
There’s so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy,
To be calm when you’ve found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you’ve got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

Father and son by Cat stevens is the song that leaped in my head .

I said I would tell the story the opposite way round to the last book I reviewed .This is someone leaving his home in Africa (Uganda in the seventies ) and making a new home and life in Europe as a refugee .Another thing has happened since I read this book and that is the story in the book has maybe become more relevant than it was earlier in the year given the current crisis in europe of refugees . The writer of this book Johannes Anyuru was born to a Ugandan father and swedish mother , he first started writing as a poet and spoken word artist  , this is his second novel and the first to be translated to English .

The first time he heard Amin speak on the radio was the same day he received the news of the coup from the Greek cadet .He had gone to the barracks and sat on his bed ; one of his classmates was there , an Acholi .P passed on the news to him . and both of them tried to call relatives from a payphone in the corridor .

Idi Amin took the country whilst the father P was in Greece learning to fly .Note the mention of his classmates tribal heritage

The book is a story of a father and son and is told in the here and now and back in the seventies when P the father in this story is a pilot in trains for the Ugandan airforce in Greece  .He grew up in a rural village in uganda  , had lost his own parents and had an older brother that to say the least was rather hands on in his care of him .So he fights his way to be a pilot and train at the point he is training .The country’s regime changes when Amin seizes power and this leads to him trying to escape after returning home and finding tribal lines have changed  .So p tries to get back to europe . We follow him through interrogation by people in Tanzania (the neighbour of Uganda ) , but this shows the tribal lines of the people don’t always follow the lines that craved up africa on the map as the main thing they have against him is his heritage .The second part of the book is P son’s story of him trying to write his fathers story .

Here is the body ; it had its history , it came out of a life that could have been a different life .But a storm blew in .I stand beside my brother .Soon we will have to push the alarm button and tell them .But for a moment we stand on either side of the body .I take of the oxygen mask and hang it beside the bed .A storm blew in from paradise .The storm was life

The title is the last lines as father and son are together .I was touched by these words very poetic .

This is autobiography as fiction this is a son trying to find his father and trace his route back to his roots and that of his father . It is about fatherless families both his own and his fathers , this is a story that crops up so often how many Steven speilberg film had a missing father at their heart ! This is also a story of lost dreams in one generation but the hope of being in a safe place the story of the journey refugees take from a pilot to no one is such a common journey .I myself worked in a factory in Germany alongside a number of Kosovar couple one of whom was a professor of Albanian literature and her husband work on the Balkan version of match of the day .I can see why this was such a huge hit in his homeland and why it is so poignant a read now .There will be a good many sons in thirty years writing their stories but how many will be in english !!!! Sorry .

Have you a story of refugees that has touched you ?

 

Wilful Disregard by Lena Andersson

 

Wilful disregard a novel about love  by Lena Andersson

Swedish fiction

Original title – Egenmäktigt förfarande – en roman om kärlek

Translator – Sarah Death

Source – Review copy

You spurn my natural emotions
You make me feel I’m dirt
And I’m hurt
And if I start a commotion
I run the risk of losing you
And that’s worse

Ever fallen in love with someone?
Ever fallen in love?
In love with someone
Ever fallen in love? (Love…)
In love with someone
You shouldn’t’ve fallen in love with

I can’t see much of a future
Unless we find out what’s to blame
What a shame
And we won’t be together much longer
Unless we realize that we are the same

I thought of Buzzcocks Ever fallen in love with just for the line Ever fallen in love with some one you shouldn’t fall in love with , just perfect for this book .

Well I move to Sweden for the second book for this women in translation month .A prize-winning novel from Lena  Andersson .A well-known Journalist and radio presenter, she has hosted a show called summer over a number of years  .She also writers a columnist for the Dagens Nyheter  .She has so far published seven books this is her fifth novel and won the August prizeone of the biggest book prizes in Sweden .This is her first book in English .

Two weeks had passed by the time she went to him , one carefully chosen evening .In the course of those weeks she had thought of nothing else .The fact he had asked her to drop round to the studio for copies of his early works meant she had the right to seek him out ,So as not to seem too eager , she waited for as long as she could bear to

I was reminded of a scene in the film swingers where they talk about how long before you should contact some one . Has Ester waited to long .

Wilful disregard is as it says a novel about love and being in love and maybe not being in Love  .The say love comes in all shapes , sizes and they say you never know when it is going to hit you .This is the love story of Ester Nilsson , she is a sensible girl in a steady relationship .When she gives a talk about an artist she loves Hugo Rask .She doesn’t know the man himself is there .He introduces himself and ask her to come to his studio , but is this just an innocent invite . They talk and then start meeting this becomes a pursuit for Ester ,as Hugo isn’t maybe quite what he seems to her and maybe what she sees he doesn’t .His disinterest is hard for her to get over .As one woman risks losing it all .

When you love and someone receives that love , the body feels light .When the opposite happens , one kilo weights three .Love that is just beginning is like dancing on a finely honed edge .It can happen that kilo never regains its proper weight , which generates a degree of apprehension in the fearful , the experienced and far-sighted .And in those who do not have esters extraordinary capacity for hope .

Haven’t we all felt this before when in love that light then heavy feeling as we start on the road of love

This is a book about love and how it makes us each act .I was sent this pleased I wouldn’t pick this to read my self and even though I read it early in the year . I knew it would be perfect for woman in translation month .The book is about what we view in others Ester has put as we used to say on a pedestal , so no matter what he does she sees no wrong .In reading swedish interviews with the writer and about the book , the events in the book thou not directly about her , events in her life had an effect on the writing of the book  and some of what Ester went through she has gone through herself .I have maybe been painting a black picture , but no this has humour in it as well a sort of comedy of modern loving in some ways .Lena takes love and breaks apart what makes one woman rick in Ester , how we maybe don’t always take the easiest path in life

Have you a favourite book about love ?

 

Fall of man in Wilmslow by David Lagercrantz The death and life of Alan Turing

Fall of man in Wilmslow by David LagerCrantz

Swedish fiction

Original title – Syndafall i Wilmslow

Translator – George Goulding

Source – review copy

 

 

Will you say that we were heroes
Or that fear of dying among strangers
Tore our innocence and false shame away?

And from that moment on deep in my heart I knew
That I would only give my life for love
Brothers in arms in each others arms
Was the only time that I was not afraid

What will you do when the war is over, tender comrade?
When we cast off these khaki clothes
And go our separate ways
What will you say of the bond we had, tender comrade?

I felt Billy Bragg’s  song Tender comrade about gay soldier in the war was a fitting song for a book about Alan Turing !

Now Lagercrantz is a new name as he has written a number of books including ghost writing I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic the biography of the Swedish footballer . This is his first book to be translated into english and is like a taster of what is to come as he was chosen to take over and finish the fourth book in Steig  Larsson’s millennium . Which is coming out later this year . So we get to see a new thriller writer from Sweden . For me the main buzz of the book dropping through my letterbox was it was set in Wilmslow I grew up in Cheshire and never knew it was where the real Alan Turing had died .

He did not like his job . He did not like the salary , the walking , the paperwork , or godforsaken Wilmslow where nothing ever happened . It had got to the point where even now he felt nothing but emptiness .

Corell arrives at the Turing’s  bored of Wilmslow , but is just getting himself started on his toughest case .

The book is a police investigation and biography  of Alan Turing  rolled into one really . The book follows a police detective Constable Corell is trying to discover more about a man who is found dead in his home in the sleepy town of Wimslow .A man is found after dying eating a poison apple . The man is Alan Turing one of the best minds of his genrations a war hero that was never appericated in his lifetime . As Corell starts to piece together Turing life and how he ended up in this sleepy town . The further down the road he gets the darker the past is and the more confused the present becomes .

Turing appeared to find the dream interesting . Corell gathered that the mathematician had a special interest in dreams . He had after all recorded his own dreams in three notebooks , and this conversation also gave rise to a sense of intimacy , and the offence was committed once more .

Corell discover everything about this Genius Turing that has been found dead on his patch !!

This remind me of the film Enigma which mixed history , the second world war , mystery and Bletchley park . The book is like a crime novel but we learn a lot more about the life and times of Alan Turing ,also his rise and fall during and after the war . Add to that the bizarre way he died a poison apple could he have been killed if so whom by ? the story has a great rhythm Corell is more like a guide we see the story unfurl at the same time he does .For me the connection to places I know so well . I must have been passed his house a hundred times during my life not knowing it was his house an old school friend even found an advert from a few years ago when the house was last sold and showed me . I know it is hard to step into the shoes of Steig Larsson , is David Lagercrantz a good choice . Well from this one book yes he seems to pace his story well which for me when I read the millennium series was part of what I enjoyed you were drawn into a world and Lagercrantz has done this in this book .I look forward to see what and where he is taking Lisbeth so if you are waiting to read The girl in the spider’s web ,why not try a bit of post world war two drama .

What are your thoughts on writers carrying on series after the original writer has died ?

 

The whales in Lake Tanganyika by Lennart Hagerfors

 

The whales in Lake tanganyika by Lennart Hagerfors

Swedish ficion

Original title – Valarna i Tanganyikasjön

Translator – Anslem Hollo

Source  – Personnel copy

 

Africa land for preachers gold
Land for everybody young and old
The place that holds for some bright future,
But for others the future tend to torture
Ma’ Africa.

What went wrong with your brains?
You kill each other you destroy human dignity
People of Africa lets stand together
And make it the land of hope!

I want to tell everybody about myself

ma africa by One giant leap featuring  The Mahotella Queens & ulal maybe captured the book a bit .Africa is a character in this book .

One of the things I love about shops like Oxfam that seem to get donate quality books is looking through the shelves and finding books that I’ve never heard off , and in this case titles that gr
.ab me .Lennart is a swedish writer , but had spent time in the Congo as a kid as his parents were missionaries .He is a literary critic as well as a writer , he has written twenty plus novels in Swedish .This looks to be the only one of his books to be translated into English in the late 1980’s , yet another Oxfam Chesterfield gem !

“My name is Stanley . Henry Morton Stanley  I am a correspondent for an american paper , the New York herald .Its manager , young James Gordon Bennett , jr has sent me out to lead an expedition into the heart of Africa .I am offering you the position of third man – you would be the third white man in the expedition .

Stanley offers Shaw the chance to join him .

The book follows Stanley’s journey through Africa( I keep saying africa as it is how it is described in the book it actually congo we are in )  to find David Livingstone .We are told the story by one of the other two white men that went with Stanley on this Quest to find Livingstone , John Shaw a drinker and ex sailor , but someone who has been in Africa a while and has let the place and people soak into him as a person and lets it still give him wonder he loves what he sees the wonders of the nature around him  , but in may ways is maybe a weak man who is in  love with world  around him .Then we see Stanley through his eyes this brash american has come to tame africa , has no time for customs or Shaw at times .This shows what is a well-known moment the meeting of  Stanley and Livingstone , through another’s eyes .But also shows the way westerns view on Africa  at the time . We follow the two men all the way to they meet Stanley .

Then Stanley got to his feet again slowly .

“Dr Livingstone . I presume ”

The old wretch barked a little laugh but then looked terrified again ..

Those famous words left Livingstone bewildered it seems here .

Now in some ways part of this book can be dated , but maybe inline with the way people spoke and view the world at the time and at times the speech used by Shaw and Stanley would be very offensive now .It also shows that one event remember the meeting can be viewed differently when seen  from another’s eyes .Lennart spent time in Congo which is of course where the actual meeting took place .Shaw was on the expedition with Stanley but  had left before he found Stanley so the part of the book where he sees the meeting is imagined .What we do see is Stanley maybe a brutal strong-headed man set on finding this man .Shaw is a softer figure a broken man in many ways but one in total awe of all that surrounds him .I was reminded of books like the secret history of Costaguana , a book that also tells another tale of colonial life all bit in latin america but the is parallels in how westerns treat the native folk .Well a gem from Sweden brought second-hand a real one evening book to read but you find yourself in 1870’s Africa in the deepest jungles struggling to find a missing Scottish man .A great way to spend an evening .

Have you a favourite books set in 19th Africa ?

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