I wouldn't envy any translator the job of rendering Vargas's heavily idiosyncratic language in English, but I still cannot get behind the choices DaviI wouldn't envy any translator the job of rendering Vargas's heavily idiosyncratic language in English, but I still cannot get behind the choices David Bellos made here. The playfulness of the French has become a stilted, embarrassing mishmash that retains none of the original musicality and tone. Unfortunately, the story is not this novel's strong point, and both the characterization and the characters' unique voices are wrecked by the translation, so there's really no reason to read this in English. Sorry....more
Johanna Sinisalo is apparently well-known in Finland. It's too bad the only pieces of hers that we have in English are this book and a short story inJohanna Sinisalo is apparently well-known in Finland. It's too bad the only pieces of hers that we have in English are this book and a short story in the Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy (which I have yet to read). But if Troll is representative of her writing, I have high, high hopes for more of her work.
Troll plays with several kinds of eroticism and desire as we see the central story unfold: Angel, a gay photographer, rescues a young, injured troll from a band of teenage tormenters and takes it home to nurse it. The situation is complicated by a series of encounters and a maze of desire and lust. Who desires whom and why becomes very important as the story reaches its climax. Throughout, Sinisalo has inserted bits of Finnish troll lore—partly authentic, partly invented—that lend a confident air of realism to the novel. Above all, this is less a fantasy than a novel of an alternate Finland where trolls (Felipithecus trollius) really do exist....more
Smilla, half Kalaallit, half Dane, is taciturn and withdrawn—a wounded child grown into a dark, silent, often bitter woman. But she opens her heart toSmilla, half Kalaallit, half Dane, is taciturn and withdrawn—a wounded child grown into a dark, silent, often bitter woman. But she opens her heart to Isaiah, a young boy whom life has also wounded. When Isaiah dies, falling several stories from the snow-covered roof of a warehouse, she is forced out of her comfortable isolation to ask questions. Why had he climbed the scaffolding to play on the warehouse roof when he was terrified of heights? Why do his tracks go straight off the edge if he was merely amusing himself?
Nonetheless, it is ruled an accident. "We consider the case closed," the police tell her, but Miss Smilla has a feeling for snow, and she knows this was no accident. Isaiah was running when he went over the edge. The question she must answer is why.
What begins as a sordid tragedy unfolds slowly, inexorably, into a tense, nail-biting thriller, then a game of espionage, a cat-and-mouse game on a ship in the North Atlantic, and finally reaches its climax on a glacier-covered island off the coast of Greenland.
Høeg's plotting is devious and not always believable, but it pulled me along until the last page. For readers with a scientific bent, he has seeded the pages with references to mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry and philosophy, not to mention detailed descriptions of the harsh Greenlander way of life.
Whatever else there might be to say about this book, I am certain of one thing: I won't forget Smilla in a hurry....more