Sunday 20 December 2009

North-European writers

I have read The Twin, by Gerbrand Bakker (2008, translated by David Colmer, Harvill Secker), what a  wonderful book, a fantastic translation - the writing style is North European - a bit bare, like the living room he describes in the beginning, neutral colours, fewer objects, what is not needed thrown out.

The characters are each given their due, each with their turangawaewae. It's a great skill to have that sensitivity.The changes that happen to them interested me - for instance, when one of the children stays away after his precious poster is damaged beyond repair.

I was completely interested all the time - a rare experience: the narrative was smooth, without the sense of waiting for something to happen, no impending climax or big event, but a constant comfortable tension.

In its style and integrity, this novel reminds me of the work of Norwegian author Per Petterson, In the Wake (translation by Anne Born, Thomas Dunne Books, St Martin's Press, 2002). Also a similarity of topic, a difficult relationship between father and son. And of my beloved Bodil Malmsten whose novel The Price of Water in Finistere has been translated from Swedish (2005, the Harvill Press)

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