Echoland by Per petterson

Echoland by Per Petterson

Norwegian Fiction

Original title – Ekkoland

Translator – Don Bartlett

I was in the library the other day looking for some new books to read that may be on the Man booker international longlist when it comes out next month. Per Petterson won the old IFFP prize in 2006. This is his debut novel which has been translated into english for the first time it is nice to see that  it has been but a shame that it has taken over ten years since the success of Our stealing horse and twenty years since this book itself came out. But that said time hasn’t effect this book no it has a timeless nature to it .

They sailed across the sea to Denmark. Along the Fjord the bonfires lit up the summer evening and Avrid stood by the railing gazing twoards land, pretending they were stars. The lights rose and fell and they shone on the water and he heard laughter and singing from the shore, but the ship was quiet

maybe the last line of the opening paragraph should be a hint of what is in fromt of him

Echoland is the story of Avrid , he is twelve and like many lads of his age is just become an adult. he is on his yearly family holiday to Denmark to the small island that his grandmother lives on . But he has reached an age where this small island is maybe to small . He captures a couple in the dunes in the middle of the act . He also sees the tension between his mother and Grandmother that he has never seen before , the family coping with the loss of a child  and meanwhile we see a young man struggling to cope with his growing up that awkward sense you have as a chap at that age. Then there is the outfall of previous visits and then we also in the ending what his raging Hormones drive him too.

He wasn’t alone. Some distance away a man was jumping up and down in the water. the man was laughing out loud, and the Avrid saw the man wasn’t  on his own either. A knee was stuck up on either side of his chest above the water and when the man turned Avrid saw her face against his neck. Her long dark hair hung straight down, heavy and wet . She was quite still, clinging to the man and Avrid walked off through the water in the opposite direction, back to the rushes .

Avrid sees a couple up to more than he expected in the beach as he wandered .

I loved this the book Avrid has been in another Petterson book I read and I also know is in another i have yet to read  so he is a character that he revisit through his life. This is like the year after stand by me , I remember the lines in Stand by me about being a boy before you see girls well this is the year after that when hormones get you at the worst times . This is a classic growing up story but like many young men we miss sometimes the world around us the deep scars in his parents relationship that he doesn’t really see. I remember my own youth when my own parents split i was ten but for years I never really saw the fall out in their own lives till I had grown up in retrospective. I remember the years I was like Avrid a holiday in Spain about the same age when I had just discovered girls and my hormones where raging so could connect with some of the situations Avirid finds himself .I wouldn’t been shocked to see this on the Man booker .

Have you a favourite Per Petterson ?

Some rain must fall by karl Ove Knausgaard

Some rain must fall by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Norweigian fiction

Original title – Min Kamp Femte Bok

Translator – Don Bartlett

Source – Library book

Well I said in last post I am still reading but with three weeks til we move we are busy buying stuff and packing for the new house move. I really want to read this although I hadn’t reviewed part four of Knausgaard I have decide to just review part five now as I really enjoyed this last but one part of Karl Ove life. As was noted in the LBF talk I saw Karl Ove is maybe in part to thank for the increase in Translated sales that was mentioned in the Man booker post on sale yesterday .

“That book you were reading, could I have a look at it? ” I said to Kjetil.

“Of course”, he said and passed it tome. I skimmed through it.

“Where’s he from?”

“Argentina , I think, but he lived in Paris for a very long time.”

“is it magic realism?” I said

“Yes you might call it that ”

“I really like Marquez.” I said “Have you read him ?”

Kjetil smiled

“Yes but he’s not quite my style. Its a bit too high flown for me.””Mhm” I said, handing the book back and writing Julio Cortazar in my notebook

I love discovering writers and the connections with other writers around the world .

So we meet karl Ove as he is really starting on his journey as a writer , as he becomes a student at a writing course in Bergen where one of his tutors is Jon Fosse, a writer i have to try but one that is often mentioned in the nobel betting the last few years. What we see here is Karl Ove struggling to find himself as a writer as he starts to tackle those writers that matter James Joyce is one he has trouble with but also Claud Simon a writer I reviewed last year I can understand why he struggles to get these writers as they are so far from what Karl Ove is as a writer but I am sure this is part of what made him the writer we know. What we also see is how voliatile his personnel life is but also the first inkling of him as a a writer and also a close friendship with Fellow Norwegian writer Tore renberg whose See you tomorrow I hope to be reviewing soon as they bounce writing ideas of one another and share a taste in music .

“My manuscript has been accepted. It’s coming out this autumn! I’m going to make my debut!”

“Is that rue? But fantastic, Tore” I said

All the energy I had drained away. I walked beside him, black to the core inside. It was so unjust. It was so bloody unjust. Why should de, four years younger than me, have the talent and not me? I had reconciled myself to the fact that Epsen had talent his debut was no surprise, it made sense. But Tore? and so young?

Shit

Tore  was beaming like a sun

His friend and sounding board Tore is first to the post with a book out but in the long run well time will tell !

Tony in his much deeper review of this book says we all look for more in Karl Ove than maybe other writers as we are all a similar age to him,  well Tony and I  are to Karl Ove  he is four years older than me and this was one of the first times  in the books  I felt a gap in my taste and that of Karl Ove.  I have never fully got XTC as a band and a few of the other bands he liked I did like in the day in particular the sugar cubes but most of all I connect when he mention Smashing Pumpkins a band I like but never lovered but had seen by chance of being a Catherine wheel fan back in the day on the first uk tour. I  like Karl Ove  have  struggled with writers Like Simon and Joyce , I like Karl Ove read them to discover the world of writers although I’m not told by Jon Fosse to do so lol. I was really touched by his dedication when he said he had read the Danish edition of Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann against the Norwegian as it had been abridged in the Norwegian edition a point which as a fan of translated fiction and not over editing or abridging books in translation. This is the struggle of a young writer in what one may call the Bildungsroman book of Min Kamp.

 

The prophet of Eternal Fjord by Kim Leine

the prophets of Eternal Fjord

The prophet of Eternal Fjord was a book that arrived late last year and grabbed me straight away from the Jacket Copy. Plus my lack of knowledge of Greenland the main setting for the book, I have  wanted to read a book about Greenland after two things Hearing   the pogues song Greenland whalers that evoked the world of the whalers when a place like Greenland was central to the world for it supplies from the whaling industry  and also  learning a bit about it at school in a project about vikings . So this book seemed the perfect chance to learn a little history of Greenland at a pivotal moment in their history .From a prize-winning Danish novel.This is Kim Leine fourth book and this one won the prestigious Nordic council Literature prize.

The widow has come up here of her own accord, no one forced her. She has beaten the lice from her finest clothes and put them on. She has washed her hair in the urine tub of the communal house and tied it up. Silently observed by her heather cohabitants, she scrapped the sooty grease from her cheeks and consumed the good meal that had been put before her. Then she came up here, carried along by a lightness of step. Now she sits on the brink of happiness, expectant and with warmth in her cheeks, at the edge with her legs tucked decorously beneath her in the way all widows, the way she sits at home on the little side bench under the window opening.

The opening lines drag you in with this rich opening passage.

The prophets of Eternal Fjord is set in the late 1780’s. In 1787 Morten Falck a new priest from the hustle and bustle of Copenhagen is given a new job on Greenland, his job to get the Godless Inuit to convert to the Danish church he is consider the man for the job as he is very evangelical . So he sets of on a whaler ship top the far corner of the Danish empire. When he arrives he finds things are far worse than he had been lead to believe before he left, some of the villages have joined together and broken away from the Danish rule wanting their own freedom. Added to this Morten isn’t all he seems whilst studying he discover he had a liking for being close to women.So he arrives in Sukkertoppen with a priest in two minds surround by a harsh world.Ready to try to get the people of the Eternal Fjord on his side (this is the area that has formed their own colony away from Danish rule )

Jesus christ, our Heavenly father!

It gushes from him the moment he pulls up his cassock and sits down on the privy seat, a mud-like mass, almost without smell, an inexhaustible landslide of brown. His intestines writhe in agony, and yet there is a considerable element of joy at being able to release, to discharge this spray of filth and empty the bowels. He groans, bites his hand and chuckles. His sphincter blares and squelches, and then there is silence.

I know this is a rather bad passage but it capture the earthy dark feel of this world broken and with illness.

 

 

The book has a rich style almost like Dickens, I was also reminded of the world painted in Eleanor Cattons book The luminaries. This is also a  world of tough men and brave women similar to Catton’s world. among these brave women would be the widow she is involved with the breakaway from Denmark but has also caught the eye of Morten. I loved the feel of a world at breaking point almost as though the string from Denmark to its distant outpost has been stretched, worn down by the sea and is ready to break. All seen through the eyes of this confused priest a man with his own demons trying to rid the locals of their demons. A classic tale of colony’s and colonism  we could change this for any outpost of the british empire at the time they wanted to break away.Martin Aitken has done a wonderful job in the way he has kept what is a poetic dark world or Greenland.

Danish fiction

Original title Profeterne i Evighedsfjorden

Translator Martin Aitken

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 ?

 

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