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 ?

 

The defenceless by Kati Hiekkapelto

Defenceless B- format front

The Defenceless by Kati Hiekkapelto

Finnish crime novel

original title – Suojattomat

Translator – David Hackson

Source – review copy

 

I come only with my punishment
There comes only my conviction
is my fate Running
In order to deceive the law
Lost in the heart
of the Great Babylon
They call me the Clandestine *
’cause I do not carry any identity papers

To a northern city
i went for work
I left my life behind
Between Ceuta and Gibraltar
I’m a just a rake on the sea
A ghost in the city
My life is prohibited

I choose the English translation of the Lyrics to Clandstine by Manu Chao a song about being an immigrant.

This is the first of three books from a new publisher Orenda books , which is run by Karen who used work for Arcadia books who published kati’s first book in English the Hummingbird .Kati Hiekkapelto is a prize winning finnish writer, she is also punk singer, performance artist and a special needs teacher (earns my respect as someone whoi supports people with learning disablities ,I know how hard it is to be a teacher ).She also lives on an isolated island in the very north of Finland .She also which is maybe the seed for this book taught Hungarians in the region of Serbia that has a large Hungarian population .This book won the 2014 best Finnish crime novel .

Sammy had arrived in Finland in the same manner and using the same route as the heroin that he knew so well, smuggled in to feed the hungry veins of Western Europeans: hidden in a truck belching thick exhaust fumes and driven across the endless steppes of Russia, illegally

The heroin continued on its way ; Sammy had stayed put

The opening lines and someone  is just  like drugs just a thing to be moved alive or dead they don’t mind these gangs.

Its been a while since I covered a number of  translated crime novel on this blog so to get sent three of what is the most popular genre for books in translation is a refresher for me of the genre so the first stop in the trio of Orenda books is Finland and the second book in the Anna Fekete series . The book starts when a body is found dead in the middle of the road .He may have been killed by a Hungarian Au-pair this is the case Anna Fekete is given  this case rings with her own past .Meanwhile her police partner Esko  is stuck in a case of trying to track a gang that are bring illegal immigrants to the Finland. As the two police officers follow each of the case like a candle burning a both ends a discovery brings the two case to an explosive end .Add to that a biker gangs one native Finns the other immigrants.

Anna sighed. She felt sorry for Gabriella: she would probably receive a minor punishment, but whatever it was the sentence would be a blow. It would be a nasty blot on her record. Would she ever get a job again ? At same time Anna felt a foul sense of satisfaction . Not exactly Shadenfreude, but something similar. What is about that girl that bothered me, she wondered. Why do I think this somehow serves her right?

The au pair gets off but is still involved as the case takes a twist .

I have read a number of Nordic crime novels during the time of this blog, For me The defenceless is up among the best. Anna Fekete leaps of the page, in this up to date novel .How often have we turn the TV on the last few years and seen stories about Immigrants and illegal gangs that bring them into countries what hiekapelto has done is taken that and used a crime novel to dissect the story from both ends the people who arrive in the country and the dreadful gangs that bring these people in dangerous circumstances. Kati has brought these threads together in what is a great Nordic crime novel with a slice of social conscience. I will be back with the other books from Orenda books .

Have you read any crime novel that tackle topical topics in their novels ?

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 ?

 

This should be written in the present tense by Helle Helle

 

This should be written in the present tense by Helle Helle

Danish fiction

Original title -Dette burde skrives i nutid

Translator – Martin Aitken

Source review copy

Being boring

I came across a cache of old photos
and invitations to teenage parties
‘Dress in white’ one said with quotations
from someone’s wife, a famous writer
in the nineteen-twenties
When you’re young you find inspiration
in anyone who’s ever gone
and opened up a closing door
She said we were never feeling bored

’cause we were never being boring
We had too much time to find for ourselves
and we were never being boring
We dressed up and fought then thought make amends
And we were never holding back or worried that
time would come to an end

I choose this as in someways it is maybe a writer looking back on her youth” her twenties “

Helle Helle is one of the leading writers in Denmark .She studied literature in Copenhagen , she started writing after that she has worked in radion and written childrens books .But with her adult fiction has won a number of big prizes such as the PO enquist prize . This is her first book to be translated to english .I am pleased to add Helle Helle to the list of writers I have reviewed this woman in translation month .

I slept soundly that night .I didn’t hear a peep from the couple in the front room , or from the trains ,or the boiler in the utility room next door.It must have kicked in during the night , the place was sweltering when I woke up .My cheeks felt like they were on fire .It was light outside and the sky was blue .I stared emptily at the bark of the old pear tree for a minute , then came another gentle knock on the door and after a second it opened .

Haven’t we all slept and then woken in a newish place expecting it to be one way , I once woke thinking it was Germany but found out I was still in Holland !

 

This was a book I read the back end of last year , I quickly read through it this week just to refresh me of parts of the book .This should be written in the present tense is a vibrant book about being young it is the story of Dorte she has just left home moved into her own flat near the university in Copenhagen .Well that is what everyone thinks she is doing busy studying .But no she is busy well doing nothing much other than a journey of her own to discover who she is as a person .As she is busy doing this in the shopping district of the town with her poet friend and her boyfriend Per .What we see is the stor is a series of episodes of Dorte’s life rather than a straightforward short glimpses of a young womans life .As she finds friends herself , men and the wider world instead of studying at university .

One day I went for a bike ride while Per was having a nap .I cycled aimlessly in the direction of the nursery ,it was late afternoon .The forsythias were in bloom in a few small front gardens .I was soon too hot in my jumpers .I stopped to take it off , then carried on in my t-shirt.A smell of seaweed and salt waters hung over the fields .

Smells bring back the memories of growing up .

Maybe books are like the countries they come from ? well if that is the case maybe this book This should be written in the present tense is the perfect novel for how we see Denmark and the danish ! Maybe this book is clean in the way it is written as I said it has a epsodic nature about it and the passages are little gems of writing maybe like little lego blocks that we put together one by one to build what is a model of Dorte and her world but in that lego way all clean lines and bold strokes .Now that title where did she get this should be written in the present tense from , I did wonder and found out she was parapharse a quote from Samuel Beckett ,whilst doing that it said in the same article in Danish (using google translate )I discovered that she views the book as her most personnel book and parts of it is autobigraphical .I loved Dorte’s life it remind me of my younger years I was a wander in my teens instead of college I used hitch into Newcastle most days and wander arond this city meeting and observing the world .

When the doves disappeared by Sofi Oksanen

 

 

 

When the doves disappeared by Sofi Oksanen

Finnish fiction

Original title –  Kun kyyhkyset katosivat

Translator – Lola M Rogers

source – review copy

Dig if you will a picture
Of you and I engaged in a kiss
The sweat of your body covers me
Can you my darling
Can you picture this?
Dream if you can a courtyard
An ocean of violets in bloom
Animals strike curious poses
They feel the heat
The heat between me and you

How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that’s so cold (So cold)
Maybe I’m just too demanding
Maybe I’m just like my father too bold
Maybe you’re just like my mother
She’s never satisfied (She’s never satisfied)
Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry

I choose this as when I read the book I kept calling it when doves cry not when the doves disappeared .I although you can read more into the prince lyrics like you can read more into this book .

Sofi first book in English was one of those rare books in translation that breaks out of the circle of translated readers and gets to a wider audience ,so how to follow-up that success ,well When the doves disappeared was for a me good choice it is based in a similar era to the first book Purge  and also is a story of two people like the first book .But that is where the similarity end . Sofi Oksanen is fast become a huge star of Nordic fiction ,winning the finlandia , nordic prize and the first finnish women to win the Swedish Nordic prize , she has also been women of the year in \Estonia which is part of her shared heritage finnish Estonian .So my fourth women in translation month read sees us going to Finland .

I knew that once Estonia was free again , people of good conscience would want to examine these years , and that would have to be evidence that we acted according to the law , But such thorough record keeping was a risk we couldn’t afford ,The acts of the bolsheviks had already proved that pur country and our homes where under the control of barbarians .

they look at 1941 at what they are doing now how it will be looked at in years to come .

The book is set in the Baltic state of Estonia and is the tale of two cousins Roland a freedom fighter and man of principal and his cousin Edgar a slippery man who when the German comes joins them and leaves both his cousin and his wife Juudit .The story is told in two eras  1941 just as Estonia is about to fall to the russians  and 1963 as the country is no under the stranglehold of the Soviet regime .The first era follows the fall then the Germans taking control of Estonia and Edgar rise as he sees a new Estonia under the Germans , but this is the frontline and this brief time of German rule is about to be wiped out by Stalin . The second era in the book shows how twenty years of Stalin and post Stalin rule has had on the country and the three main character in this book .

Comrade Part’s instinct was correct .In the list from 1944 he found a familiar name .Just a name , no date of death or indication of transfer to another camp or evacuation to germany ,A name he wished had been someone else’s .Anyone else’s .He had been searching for any name he recognized , but this was the very name he didn’t want to find , a name that felt like if he pronounced it out loud his tongue would be covered in blisters ,A name that shouldn’t even be on the list .Roland Simson.

Who is Part’s ? and is Roland really dead ?

I actually enjoyed this more than Purge , for me Edgar and Roland reflect two human characters the brave man and the coward . It shows how easy it is to get on if you try to be something you’re not when Edgar does when he joins the Nazis . But it also shows the cost of being brave and sticking to your guns . But most of all it shows how hopeless both sides are under the soviet regime years ago .The book is told at a fast pace jumping between the forties and sixties as we see the story of the three characters and the greater story of Estonia .This book is a worthy follow-up to purge from a rising star of Nordic fiction .

Have you read this or Purge ?

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 ?

 

The Black signs by Lars Mørch Finborud


 

 

 

The black signs by  Lars Mørch Finborud

Norwegian fiction

Original title – De svarte skiltene

Translator – Becky l Crook

Source personnel copy

Who’ll build a box for Black Paul?
Ah’m enquirin on behalf of his soul
Ah’d be beholdin to ya all
For a lil information, just a little indication
Just who’ll dig the hole?
When ya done ransackin’ his room
grabbin any damn thing that shines,
throw the scraps down on the street
Like all his books and his notes.
All his books and his notes and
All the junk that he wrote
the whole fucken lot right up in smoke
Ain’t there nuthin sacred anymore
Won’t someone will build a box for Black Paul?

rather large quote but I imagined this woman a bit like the character in this Nick Cave song 

Lars Mørch Finborud is a Norwegian writer born in Oslo , he also runs a record label and writes articles  for various magazines in Norway .This is his first novel , he has previously published books about the history of art about Bauhaus , Christopher Nielsen and performance art .

                          Jan Holmboe (1725 – 1762 )

It was here that Jan Holmboe was run over by a horse drawn carriage with a tipsy coach man on January 7 , 1767.He died four days later at the hospital in Christiania from injuries suffered

One of the black signs the lawyer finds maybe the first death to drink driving ?

Now it is interesting that Lars has written about art for that is one of the main parts of this book , it follows a lawyer as he enters a house of a dead client to catalogue all the items within the house for an auction .The book is in two parts really the first is a collection of letter he finds between the grandson of the houses owner and his friend .The discuss a lot of what is found in the house things like the black signs , these are memorial plaques to events and people , but in lots of ways minor people and events with no real sense behind them .Then there is the second thread in the book the objects this woman  , the grandmother collected and catalogue over a number of years .She kept things from people she met whether a napkin, a glass , letters , signed books .We see her interaction with some of the most famous figures from 20th century culture with each is a label of when where and who she got them from and what happen briefly  and the condition of each item as thou they were in a sale or mounted in a musuem .

HARALD SZEEMANN’S DIRTY NAPKIN(1971)

The napkin used by Harald Szeemann in the restaurant “La Vache ” in Kassel .Used to remove sour cream from his beard just before he scolded Alina Szapoczinhkow for asking if he could provide funding for the production of a large abdominal sculpture for Docenmta V. Szeemann had shout his response “You have to get resources and realize the project yourself and then and only then , will we decide whether it should appear in Documenta or not !” Alina stood up and left in protest , but grandma was able to grab the napkin before following he out of the door

Paper napkin and sour cream

G-(mold on the napkin)

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Harald Szeemann curated the fifth docuenta in Kassel the four yearly modern art show there , that I went to see a number of years ago there .

 

An interesting made book that builds a picture of a very eccentric woman whom we never really know fully just through these objects and signs .Also through her grandsons unanswered letters to his friend .A woman that touched but never found fame , that knew people but maybe was never fully known by all .A truly wonderful examination of what make people , the stuff we are , why do we keep certain things and if we went to this extreme where we kept everything that had been touch or given by the famous and talented .what are we when we die , will she end up with her sign or will her memories just be in the objects the lawyer is shifting through in this book ? A book that as one reviewer in Norway says gives you no answers maybe just makes you question who this woman and her grandson was and even more who is the mysterious friend that he has been written to but never seemed to have replied to all these letter ?

Do you like books that maybe make you paint the picture or fill the dots in for the story ?

iffp library books and a couple of new nordic gems Winstons books

Well as the year ends I always tend to try to look for any books that may have slip under my radar for next year IFFP , I decide to order two from the library that had caught my eye in recent months and had both been on the IFFP before David Grossman , his latest book a mix of poetry prose and a play like dialogue  .I do wonder if this will be entered for the IFFP , but Falling out of time sees  bereaved parents looking for there lost children starting in a small village and meeting the folk that live their .The other book is by Per Petterson I refuse  a story pf two boys one lost his mother that has gone the other with his own parents , sounds a bit like he is on his usual ground but I have enjoyed his other books .

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Now the strange thing is as I order one Nordic novel and collect the Petterson than on the next two days I have two more nordic novels arrive in the post the following two days  ,it must be winter calling !

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Now the fist is The wandering Pine by Per Olov Enquist , a third person account of his own life and the strange events that have happened to him ,events such as lost days and partying .The mention of this being as elliptical as Karl Ove Knausgaard is exhaustive another remarkable sounding book from Sweden .

imageThen today this dropped through the letterbox .The winter war by Philip Teir a Finnish writer that writes in Swedish .The book follows the Paul Family the husband Max is about to turn 60 and what on the top seems a great live when under the surface is actually just about to crack open a wife he doesn’t love and kids with problems , what caught my eye on this is comparisons to Yates and Updike but with a cooler Nordic temperament mmm sounds good .Any way that some recent arrivals I’ve been offline over a week just spending time with family my mum visited , Amanda and I had a couple of days off together and just spent time together , I shall catch up on comments etc this week  .I’ll be back tomorrow with a new review of a great French translation from Algeria . Have you had any gems through your doors recently !

 

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