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The Circus

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  118 ratings  ·  37 reviews
A real-life vanishing act leaves one man looking for his missing friend in this clever, Kavkaesque novel of psychological suspense from the acclaimed author of The Room and The Invoice

The narrator of The Circus is perfectly content with his quiet life. He works at a bakery counter, and in his free time organizes (and reorganizes) his record collection. He's not up
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published January 28th 2020 by Hogarth Press
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Average rating 3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  118 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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Thank you, Netgalley and Random House for sending me a digital ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

What a quirky and charming novel. I absolutely loved every second of it. The writing is simple and yet sentimental. It definitely tugged on my heartstrings. I didn't want it to end. I was completely enamored with the offbeat plot, and that awesome twist the author threw in towards the end...WOW, I'm speechless. I'm usually pretty good at guessing a twist but this one was unexpected and made me
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book had me at Circus. I literally can’t resist a circus story or, it seems, even a story featuring one. And here, circus is just a place where the main event occurs, the vanishing of the protagonist’s best friend, Magnus. This serves as a catalyst for this short novel. Not only does it upend the main character’s plain predictable orderly existence, but it might make him question his very reality. Or not…because there’s something very comfortable about the blanket of deliberate ignorance. ...more
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translated, arc
The Circus is described as Kafkaesque, but I think it is more of a combo of Franz Kafka+Nick Hornby with a splash of Chuck Palahniuk. The book starts with the question “ it possible to be friends with someone who listens to “Fix You” by Coldplay?” I was sold. The friend in question is Magnus, whom the narrator goes to the Circus with, but Magnus disappears. The timeline then goes from past to present as he tries to figure out what happened to Magnus. Sparse, strange, sometimes funny, and ...more
I read and very much enjoyed Jonas Karlsson's THE ROOM and hoped that this would be just as good. Alas, the plot and characters were not as interesting or as well-developed and I felt that it would have made a better short story than a novel. I did not find the characters well-rounded or very interesting though the way the protagonist dealt with loneliness and being bullied was realistic. 2.5 stars from
this reader.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this ARC.
Feb 04, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ken Fredette
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a music lovers dream, by Jonas Karlsson. It takes on more meaning to a person who loves music more than I do because I only new the American names of the groups. It plays out that Magnus knows that this person that calls and says nothing but plays music, maybe his old nemesis, but he doesn't know that. He keeps on wondering what happened to his friend Magnus at the Circus. He could have called the police to find out but didn't. Jallo could have been right, Magnus could have invented ...more
Cathe Olson
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A man and his friend Magnus go to the circus together, but when Magnus volunteers to disappear in a magic trick, he never reappears--and his friend can't find out what has happened to him.

I absolutely loved this book. I can't figure out what to say about it that won't give things away--and I don't want to give one single thing away. I want it all to be revealed to you in this perfectly told story. If you like the dark kind of Nordic writing like I do--you must read this captivating book. My
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable book. The plot is less important than the extraordinary writing and layers of mystery within this Circus. While I figured things out before the end, that did not in any way diminish my enjoyment of this book, about which very little can be said without revealing spoilers. Reading The Circus takes one on a journey into what appears bizarre and mysterious, but once the layers are all peeled back, reveals itself, at its core, as a tale about the very circus that is one’s life. ...more
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another fantastic book by Jonas Karlsson. His characters are always interesting and there's an element of mystery that seeps through the book but the character development is where the book shines. The friendships that the main character has with other characters were the driving force of the book. The story was interesting and intriguing and I'll be excited to see what comes next from Karlsson.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest
2.5 stars. I read the Dutch translation, which spoilered the plottwist (view spoiler) on the back of the book -_-
Even so, the plottwist still could have worked, were it not for the fact that the MC was extremely apathetic and zombielike, and seemed not to care about his own life at all. So why should I? I really do not understand what the appeal of these kinds of characters is, but a lot of "Literature" has them...
The flashbacks to his
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Living a quiet life, the narrator enjoys his job working at the bakery and spends his evenings with his extensive vinyl record collection. He loves to rearrange his synth music albums, getting them into just the right order, while he listens to his favorite tracks. He’s not always alone though. He has friends, and sometimes they ask him to join them at the record store or the bar. Or his high school friend Magnus calls him up and invites him to a circus.

He agrees to go with Magnus to the
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After reading a third of this short book:
The blurb mentioned Kafkaesque but invoked more Murakami for me. Emotionally closed off male protagonist. Copious detail of everyday life including what protagonist eats. Strange magic realism threads wound into the normalcy of life. Western music, specific pieces brought up like a leitmotif. Reader is befuddled for most of the story. Yup, classic Murakami. I am waiting for a cat to appear but clowns will do for now. In addition, Jonas Karlsson's
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A real-life vanishing act leaves one man looking for his missing friend in this Kafkaesque new novel from the author of The Room and The Invoice.

The gentle, off-beat narrator of The Circus is perfectly content with his quiet life. By day he works in a bakery, and by night he obsessively organizes and reorganizes his record collection: it’s all just the way he
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
I spent half of my effort with The Circus reading and the other half convincing myself I liked it. As the mystery unfolded, I quickly found myself slipping; scanning, not reading, eventually glossing ahead. And then it was over.

It's worth emphasizing that the conceit of this book is a clever one. But whether due to translation or style, the stilted writing does little to add nuance to the story, which itself is little more than a premise. The nameless narrator represents an archetype I've rarely
What's Emmy Reading?
Okay, I’m going to be honest. I requested this one on Netgalley because it said in the blurb, and on the cover, that this book was ‘by the author of The Room’ and it was late at night and I thought it was Emma Donoghue, who wrote Room, which is a very good book. When I went to read it, I realized I was wrong and it was by Jonas Karlsson. I hadn’t read anything by him before, and so I was a little nervous about taking a chance on it. But it was so good!

If you’ve spent some time on my blog, you
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I received a copy of this book from the goodread's giveaway. This is an "odd" story in an interesting way. The narrator is a music lover he has a huge collection on vinyl he rearranges daily. His only friend "Magnus" asks him to go to a Circus with him. Not something wants to do but goes reluctantly. While at the circus they see a magic act. Magnus is asked to be a volunteer for a disappearing act. the narrator sees Magnus in a mirror and appears to be waving at him. After that Magnus disappears ...more
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Circus books are usually right up my alley, but this one didn't stay with me. I had a really hard time finishing the book if I am being really honest. I liked the characters, but I feel like I really didn't get to know them personally and I really like knowing the characters I am reading about. The pacing was nice, but I just felt like there was something more that should have been in this book.

Thank you
So, if you are looking for a novel about a circus, or a good whodunit, this isn't the book for you. However, if you love an introspective novella with a little weird and a lot of information about music, you have come to the right place! While this book wasn't at all what I expected from the description, I really enjoyed Karlsson's writing style and am glad I stuck through with it till the end.

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.
Paula Lyle
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
This story is not so much about a missing man as it is the story of a bullied boy, who has spent his life trying to hide that fact from himself. It is heartbreaking in its nonchalance and sense of the ordinary. I like to think that the ending had a glimmer of hope. Well worth reading.
Feb 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mostly an interesting read, the “twist” was too obvious for the length of the book. Ending was a bit of a let down. The narration was well done.

My copy was provided by NetGalley for review all opinions are my own.
Taylor Thomas
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

Everything about the setup of this book is up my alley. And it was a fun, quick-moving read. My one complaint is that the characters lacked a certain amount of depth and weren't as fleshed out as I'd like.
Jan 29, 2020 rated it liked it
The narrator's friend Magnus disappeared after volunteering as a particpant in a circus magic act, and he sets out to find out what happened. Many flashbacks to the history of their friendship, juxtaposed with the narrator's current friendships. Deadpan and quirky, with a slight twist at the end.
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Easy to read but not to follow. Didn't enjoy.
Saskia Osinga
Love the cover !!!
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Won on goodreads.. I get what happened there but what was the point!
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it

Review posted at Tzer Island book blog:
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Lost interest dnf...
Jodie Powers
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is really strange, very introspective, filled with music, and more than a little sad. It is NOT about a circus but that's ok.
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Sven Bert Jonas Karlsson is a Swedish actor and author. He won a Guldbagge Award for Best Actor in 2004 for the movie Details. He published his first book, a collection of short stories, in 2007.
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