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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,168 Ratings  ·  259 Reviews
A surreal and shockingly original debut novel set in a dystopian world shaped by language--literally.

Vanja, a government worker, leaves her home city of Essre for the austere, wintry colony of Amatka on a research assignment. It takes some adjusting: people act differently in Amatka, and citizens are monitored for signs of subversion.

Intending to stay just a short while,
Paperback, 216 pages
Published June 27th 2017 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2012)
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Gregory Although I'm not 100% sure of this answer, I believe it may be translated by the author herself. My copy contains no mention of another translator.…moreAlthough I'm not 100% sure of this answer, I believe it may be translated by the author herself. My copy contains no mention of another translator. The only indicia in the book at all is a copyright for the English version to the original author, but with a different year from the original copyright date.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
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Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, dystopia, sci-fi
That was weird. Seriously weird, but oddly fascinating, but with an ending I found unsatisfying. My thoughts are all over the place for this one, so here they are first in list format and then a bit more elaborated.

World building


Set in the not specified future on a (I assume) different planet, this books reads very much like a classic dystopian novel in the style of Ray Bradbury or George Orwell. The main character, Vanja, arrives in Amatka
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one is a hard one to review without giving away certain discoverable plot twists except to say... what a surreal, surreal world.

I think it's a mild New Strange. Or perhaps it's a hardcore Magical Realism. Perhaps it's just a study in what it means to use imagination when surrounded by literalism. Maybe it's a whole society built on the necessity of crushing that imagination in all ways. Maybe it's a necessity. And maybe we're in bizarro commune land brushing its fingertips against 1984.

Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
People often conflate pity with sympathy. Both words may refer, superficially, to a feeling of compassion for another’s misfortune; contextually, they can have radically different uses. Sympathy more often carries with it some notion of equity – it asks that compassion be born of justness, that understanding is earned because it is shared. Conversely, pity holds a note of condescension from the pitying, and a certain amount of solicitousness on the part of the pitied. Sympathy is meant to streng ...more
Jessica Woodbury
This was my first exposure to Tidbeck. I knew nothing about her or the book before I started it. I had just gone on vacation and when I realized I was reading something rather bleak and Scandinavian I almost put it down. It didn't seem like the right fit. But there was just enough weirdness in those early chapters to get me to stick around.

Dystopia is popular these days, and this is certainly a speculative dystopia. But I enjoyed it immensely. While reading it I kept commenting about it to my tr
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reto-2016
Escrita antes de ese auténtico descubrimiento que fue para mí Jagannath, Amatka es la primera novela de Karin Tidbeck, una novela mucho mejor ideada que resuelta. Por lo que he podido comprobar hasta el momento, la autora sueca se desenvuelve mejor en el terreno de las historias cortas, siendo Amatka un intento más bien frustrado de llevar a buen puerto una idea estupenda y repleta de posibilidades. La historia arranca con una mujer que se dirige en tren a la colonia de Amatka desde otra poblaci ...more
Libros Prohibidos
Con un estilo limpio y eficaz, basado en la acción (apenas se describe nada), Karin Tidbeck construye una novela que se puede beber de un trago, que se lee con la misma atención con la que uno caminaría por una selva que no conoce y en la que no puede prever absolutamente nada. Reseña completa:
Terri Jacobson
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm finding it difficult to summarize and review Amatka. The book is speculative fiction by Swedish author Karin Tidbeck. Tidbeck creates a spare, cold world in the colony of Amatka, one of four remaining colonies in this dystopian world. (The fifth colony was destroyed in a horrible accident.) The main character is Brilars' Vanja Essre Two, an information assistant with Essre Hygiene Specialists from her home colony of Essre. Vanja travels to Amatka as part of her job to assess the colony's hyg ...more
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of classic dystopias and/or Jeff VanderMeer
As I listed in the "I would recommend to" section: Like classic dystopias and/or Jeff VanderMeer's works, particularly the Area X trilogy? It's perfect for readers who are intrigued by the idea of the unlikely intersection of that particular venn diagram. The weirdness seeps in drip by drip, building significantly in the final chapters, until all semblance of normalcy (quite literally) dissolves.

The very end was, for me, a bit anti-climactic, but just as with VanderMeer's Annihilation, the ambig
After reading Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck years ago, I knew I wanted to read anything of hers published in English. It's still one of my favorite short story collections. I believe Amatka is the only other of her works published in the U.S., though I could be wrong.

Amatka is both similar and different than Tidbeck's short stories. It has the same subtlety, the same unique world building, and the same ambiguous ending (which I loved). I missed out on the lyricism of Tidbeck's short stories, and I
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-casa, blog-related
Cuando en las sinopsis y las reviews que ves se menciona en la primera frase "es una distopía clásica", o bien es un libro muy simple enmarcado en el género y por tanto sin aportes nuevos, o más bien quieres definir algo con pocas palabras para esconder gran parte del argumento interior.
Esta historia es lo segundo.

Se te encoge el alma, quizás al nivel de Annihilation de Jeff Vandermeer.
No sé si yo también califico esta historia de "prosa sin excesos retóricos, sin metáforas, etc", pero sí te pue
Jessica Sullivan
The kind of book where I had no idea what I'd be rating it until the very end. It's completely readable and thought provoking, but with a story like this, so much depends on how it all comes together.

Amatka takes place in a mysterious future world where the very fabric of reality is constantly at risk of being destroyed. The inhabits of the four colonies that make up this world are taught from an early age that they must consistently "mark" objects in order to keep them rooted in reality. They d
Bill Hsu
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
So far, very different from the slippery, sparkly hairballs of Jagannath. The role of language is still strange and intriguing; but with Amatka's overt science fiction-y conventions, I fear everything mysterious and wonderful will be overexplained soon enough. The pace is also a bit on the plodding side.

Update: I love the central concept. But we do ooze slowly to the climactic events.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Doooode. This was strange. And amazing. Just plopped me right down into the story with no back history, no world-building, just boom here is this new plot line and this is just how stuff is.

This is the second Swedish dystopia I've read and damn, it's got a specific aesthetic. Definitely born of specific setting in nature and specific culture and government.
Mur Lafferty
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Maybe 3.5? Or 4?)

I liked the gentle rise of the tension; you get the sense that something is going wrong, or has gone wrong, or will go wrong...reveals are satisfying and just-enough.

I imagined some sort of cross between scandi neutrals and threadbare dystopia. It's an interesting portrayal, and there are some truly haunting details, but spoilers.

Minus a bit for Nina's flatness/awkward dialogue...and still figuring out that ending, which seemed to come on a bit suddenly?
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sweden

Vanja (fullständigt NAMN: Brilars Vanja Essre Två) kommer med TÅG till STADEN Amatka, längst ut vid KANTEN av civilisationen. Hennes SYSSELSÄTTNING där är att prata med MEDBORGARE för att undersöka intresset för HYGIENPRODUKTER från det något rikare Essre, där man specialiserat sig på sådant.

Hon märker Amatka: en GRUVA, en kall och gråskitig STAD bebodd av MEDBORGARE som lever på SVAMP, GRÖT och SPRIT. Där måste ju finnas EFTERFRÅGAN på HYGIENPRODUKTER. Bortom dem finns ju bara INTET, ända
Kathy Cunningham
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Karin Tidbeck’s AMATKA is a dystopian fantasy about the nature of reality and how it can be shaped with language. That sounds a bit weird, and this novel is definitely that, but it’s also deeply compelling, truly chilling, and eerily relatable. The story centers on a young woman named Brilars’ Vanja Essre Two (“Brilars” identifies Vanja’s parents as Britta and Lars, “Essre” is the colony in which she was born, and “Two” indicates where she stands in the birth order). Vanja has come from Essre to ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Listed as sci-fi, Amatka is more of a dystopian novel. I know that this book got good reviews but the beginning of the story seemed weak to me; it was slow to reveal the plot or substance of the story. The 'weakness' seemed to permeate this story.

Life is made up of colonies - each colony has a purpose or job. Vanja, from Essre where they manufacture items necessary for life, goes to Amatka for surveys or personal hygiene to take back to the manufacturing company where she works. This was oddbal
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

I think i first heard of this book when Jeff VanderMeer recommended it in his picks for new "New Weird" books he'd read or was anticipating a while ago in an article and was intrigued enough to seek it out.

Amatka properly fits the bill for sure. You are thrown without any hand-holding into Karin TIdbeck's world with her main protagonist who has been transferred for work and just arrived to Amatka. We get to learn about everything as she reveals it which was one of the things i liked ab
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting trip to a new world.
Often made me think of 1984 (Orwell) because of what things were called was important and the story takes place in a very regimented society.
I liked it a lot my only "quibble" would be the ending. (I wouldn't have finished it like that!)
I hope that's sufficiently vague to tempted readers.
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it
grey, dystopian, totalitarian and so very scandinavian. reminiscent of lowry's THE GIVER and the mundantity of kafka. i enjoyed the plaintive speak and the bareness of the prose. ending was heart-breaking and abrupt, and if i'm being honest, a little disappointing. all in all, i would suggest it for those with a taste for quotidian bleakness.
Joy Clark
Language. It shapes our thoughts, emotions, experiences, and even our brain development. Amakta is a part-fantasy, part-science fiction, allegory of the impact of language on society. I can't be much more specific than that without giving too much away. In a nutshell, Amatka is a colony in an unknown land. Objects must be continuously "marked" or they lose their shape. I know, sounds a bit far-fetched, and aspects of this novel are exactly that, but the allegorical aspects are spot-on. I thoro ...more
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it
In this world, every object has to be reminded of its name or it will fall apart. It's bleak and cold. A government employee travels to a far-flung colony to write a report about the hygiene products the citizens there use. From an early age, everyone learns how to spend time naming all the objects they see so the objects will keep their shape. If you don't do this, bad things will happen.
KC Davis
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve been a huge fan of Karin Tidbeck since reading her short story collection Jagannath back in 2014. Her imagination is edgy and surprising, her voice is engaging, and her tales resonate with deeper meaning. In Amatka, all of those elements are on display across a larger canvas, which I very much enjoyed. Her depiction of the strange world and the controlling society that evolved within it is vivid—and bleak. It’s not a long novel, and the pace is fast throughout, which gave it the feel of an ...more
Marc Pastor
Distopia classiquíssima, en la línia orwelliana, amb petites variacions fantàstiques per fer especial èmfasi en el poder transformador de la paraula. Si bé es destaca que és una novel·la força freda, igual que la societat que descriu, a mi aquest aspecte m'ha deixat fora de la història. No he sentit cap mena d'empatia per la Vanja, la protagonista.
Cap al final, potser perquè anava distret, m'he perdut entre els noms, les anades i vingudes i les diferents faccions i he acabat per no entendre gair
A very solid four stars, with strong leaning towards five. I loved Tidbeck's short story collection Jagannath (to be re-released by Vintage in early 2018 - yay! it took me a while to find a reasonably priced second hand hard copy last year ans I've been even considering reading the ebook on my phone). And her first novel does not disappoint: clever, intense, different. There is the story which is told, a story of language, and there is the very language in which it is being told - a language tha ...more
Mal Warwick
Historically, science fiction has mostly been identified with the United States and Great Britain. That's not to say, however, that talented authors from many other countries, writing in languages other than English, haven't made their mark in the genre. Science fiction novels, some of them outstanding, have come from Russia, China, and other countries as far-flung as Brazil, Czechoslovakia, and Iceland. Now Swedish writer Karin Tidbeck, previously known for her well-received collection of short ...more
Chris Walker
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a really cool (if somewhat too understated for my tastes) book. I'm especially glad that I read it so soon after reading Johanna Sinisalo's The Core of the Sun. While their plots aren't particularly similar, they're both set in dystopic, authoritarian communities that I found really interesting. What I especially enjoyed is that they weren't like dystopic fictions (The Hunger Games series, the Divergent series, etc.) whose plots focus mainly on the violent confrontation between an obvio ...more
Courtney Judy
To give you an idea of the story...Vanja, the main protagonist, is sent on assignment to research the use of hygiene products by the "city" she is visiting and to work on getting the residents (if you can call them that) of that city to broaden where they get the products. i.e. the main city wanted to be the sole producer of said hygiene products. The story then unfolds with her learning about what's really going on in the visiting city, which doesn't jive with what the main city and their writt ...more
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