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. 

 

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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 .

 

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