No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Thursday, March 31, 2005

#27: Not Before Sundown -- Johanna Sinisalo (trans. Herbert Lomas)

This novel, by one of Finland's foremost fantasy / science fiction authors, has just won the Tiptree Award for 'gender-bending' fiction. I'd been meaning to read it anyway, after glowing recommendations from Finnish and American friends. I suppose this novel counts as an AU, for it's a world in which trolls -- descended from the cat-ape Felipithecus -- roam the wilds of Scandinavia, though they are extremely rare. Mikael, a young gay photographer in present-day Finland, finds an adolescent troll outside his apartment; he takes it in, feeds it catfood and names it Pessi. The novel deals with how the two of them are affected by one another's presence. It's 'about' outsiders, from Pessi to Mikael to Palomita, the Filipino woman downstairs. It's 'about' territory.

Sinisalo presents many of the pertinent facts in the form of news reports or excerpts from other (real and imagined) texts, ranging from scientific journals to children's stories: it's not always clear whether Mikael has access to the same information as does the reader.

I'm presuming this is a good translation of the original Finnish: it has the same rhythm and flow as English written by Finns of my acquaintance. A very quick read and a powerful plot, though there is plenty left unsaid at the end: recommended.

reposted here from LJ in order to keep all my reviews in one place

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