Post Script: The White Book – Han Kang

The White Book

The White Book

Han Kang

Translated by Deborah Smith

Allen & Unwin Australia

Portobello Books

ISBN: 9781846276293

 

Description:

From the winner of the Man Booker International Prize for The Vegetarian

 

Writing while on a residency in Warsaw, a city palpably scarred by the violence of the past, the narrator finds herself haunted by the story of her older sister, who died a mere two hours after birth. A fragmented exploration of white things – the swaddling bands that were also her shroud, the breast milk she did not live to drink, the blank page on which the narrator herself attempts to reconstruct the story – unfolds in a powerfully poetic distillation.

 

As she walks the unfamiliar, snow-streaked streets, lined by buildings formerly obliterated in the Second World War, their identities blur and overlap as the narrator wonders, ‘Can I give this life to you?’. The White Book is a book like no other. It is a meditation on a colour, on the tenacity and fragility of the human spirit, and our attempts to graft new life from the ashes of destruction.

 

This is both the most autobiographical and the most experimental book to date from South Korean master Han Kang.

 

 

My View:

Experimental in presentation and design, economically written, no words wasted, emotions captured seemingly effortlessly, this is a stunning read, an emotional read.

 

Poignant beautiful prose – so personal, like reading someone else’s diary, someone who has a heart full of sadness (I hope that is not the reality, I hope that is just my imagination).

 

Advertisements

Post Script: The Accordionist – Fred Vargas

The Accordionist

The Accordionist

Three Evangelists Trilogy

Fred Vargas

Random House UK, Vintage Publishing

Harvill Secker

ISBN: 9781846559983

 

Description:

When two Parisian women are shockingly murdered in their homes, the police suspect young accordionist Clément Vauquer, who was seen outside both of the apartments in question. It seems on the surface like an open-and-shut case.

 

But now Clément has disappeared from public view. His likeness has appeared in the papers and detectives from Paris to Nevers are on his tail. To have a chance of proving his innocence, he seeks refuge with old Marthe, a former prostitute and the only mother figure he has known.

 

Marthe calls ex-special investigator Louis Kehlweiler to help Clément. But what Louis uncovers is anything but straightforward, and he must call on some unconventional friends to help him solve his most complex case yet. Not only must Louis try to prove Clément’s innocence, he must solve a fiendish riddle to lead him to the killer…

 

 

My View:

This is a great series – I love the quirky characters – Vargas characters are unique, interesting and empathetic, unlike any I have come across in the many many mystery/thrillers/crime fiction genres I have read – refreshing, a joy to read!

 

If you are feeling a little fatigued, a little less engaged, a little disenchanted with the crime fiction books you had read recently re-ignite that joy of reading by reading the Three Evangelists Trilogy – you will not be disappointed.

Post Script: Fatal Crossing – Lone Theils

Fatal Crossing

Fatal Crossing (Nora Sand #1)

Lone Theils

Charlotte Barslund (Translator)

Echo

Bonnier Publishing Australia

ISBN: 9781760406530

 

Description:

When a picture of two Danish girls who disappeared on a boat bound for England in 1985 surfaces in an old suitcase, journalist Nora Sand’s professional curiosity is immediately awakened.

 

Before she knows it, she is mixed up in the case of a serial killer serving a life sentence in a notorious prison. The quest to discover the truth about the missing girls may be more dangerous that she had ever imagined…

 

A fast-paced and skilfully plotted thriller’

Barry Forshaw

 

A candidate for the best crime novel of the year’

Krimi-Cirklen

 

 

My View:

What a great debut! This is a very credible and immensely satisfying read that had moments that remind me of actual crime that have occurred in Australia, specifically in Perth WA. I won’t share the details as I don’t want to influence your reading or give away any spoilers but after you have read it, tell me if anything in this novel resonated with crimes in your region.

Back to the review – I loved the protagonist, Nora, strong female leads are always a favourite in my reading; she is intelligent, passionate about her work, her life is extraordinary – we meet Nora who is a journalist, as she is conducting an interview with a war criminal: “The stories swirled around Nora’s head, one atrocity overtaking the next. Schoolchildren witnessing the gang rape of their teacher before they themselves were hacked to death with machetes. Massacres of villagers that went on until the murderers were too tired to life their arms and so they locked up the survivors with the corpses until the next day when the killing resumed…” (p1) A brutal  “hook” reminiscent of current news headlines that will have you squirming in your seat as you read, the honesty, brutality and inhumanity of the deeds pricking at your conscience.

I think we will be seeing more of this type of occupation and reporting of current events in our future fiction reads, what a brilliant way to add social commentary to our reading lives.

A strong, determined, feisty female protagonist, the crimes credible, heinous, prevalent and feature in our news headlines far too often and a fabulous twist or two that will surprise the most hardened crime fiction reader.  This is a fabulous read and I cannot wait for the next book in this series to arrive in my letterbox.

 

PS The translation is flawless.

 

Sweet as….Icecream

The first of my Valentine’s Day book giveaways – doesn’t this one sound inviting and perfect for a Valentine’s Day read for yourself or to to give to someone you love?   To win a copy of this moving novel, in the comments section of this post, share your favourite ice cream obsession. the-icecream-makers

The Ice- Cream Makers

Ernest van der Kwast

(trans. Laura Vroomen)

Scribe Publications

ISBN:9781925321203

Description:

**Giveaway open to Australian residents only. Many thanks to Scribe Publications for generously supporting this giveaway.Entries close midnight 13th February 2017.

 

 

 

Post Script: A Beautiful Young Wife – Tommy Wieringa

A Beautiful Young Wife

A Beautiful Young Wife

Tommy Wieringa

Translated by Sam Garrett

Scribe Publications

ISBN:9781925321180

 

 

Description:

‘He had never married and had never been with one woman for long; he had always remained a collector of first times.’

 

Edward Landauer, a brilliant microbiologist in his forties, meets a beautiful young woman. She is the love of his life, and when the two marry in France, Edward is the happiest man in the world. At first, Ruth Walta appears to represent a victory over time, but even she cannot stop him growing older.

 

After the birth of their long-awaited son, the ‘happiness, delicate like filigree’ turns into something new, and Edward no longer recognises his great romance nor the woman who induced it.

 

 

My View:

This small book pacts a powerful punch – it is the kind of book that as you turn the last page you gasp in surprise and question “What? No more?” You want more…please….

 

On the surface this is a story that touches on a relationship in turmoil – but it is so much more. Wieringa poses so many questions, presents so any brilliant social observations in this sparse but beautifully evocative prose; identity – especially that of woman now mother is exquisitely explored. Scientific progress/experimentation and pain intersect succinctly. Relationships are displayed and prodded under a modern microscope depicting change.

 

The ending – yes I wanted more- not because I liked the protagonist – I disliked him immensely; his selfish manipulative ways, his pretentious mannerisms, his judgmental attitudes… but maybe because I could see some hint of self-awareness in his later life. The author has skilfully involved me in this man’s narrative.

 

Post Script: Game: A Thriller Set In Sydney Australia – A C Efverman

Game

Game

A C Efverman

A C Efverman

ISBN: 9781516979929

 

Description:

Sydney is hosting the World Cup in soccer in a few weeks’ time, when Detective Sergeant Morgan Callaghan is assigned to lead an investigation of three dead women who have been found in central parts of the city. Morgan’s mother is dying, and his family cannot understand the pressure that Morgan has been put under by his superiors and the FIFA committee. The hunt for a serial killer leads Morgan into a darkness he has never experienced before – and in this darkness he will lose more than he ever thought was possible… This dark, relentless thriller will take you on a journey to Sydney where you will get to know DS Morgan Callaghan, and you will also get a rare insight of what it feels like to work on a murder investigation in Australia.

 

My View:

This police procedural would make an excellent film script.

AC Efverman writes a book that is heavy on detail, crime and personal tragedies. This book could so easily be read as a script for a TV show – such are the directions and the descriptions provided.

My favourite piece in the book is an observation, a reflection that the protagonist (DS Callaghan) makes about serial killers, “As I said: he is a psychopath. These guys don’t follow any rules. They make up their own agendas. Serial killers have been known to escalate their murdering sprees when they have work experience. (p191, emphasis added)  So true!!!

The book is reportedly very successful in Sweden, however I feel the English translation of the book would have benefited from a strong edit by someone who speaks and writes English as a first language – so much of the conversations came across as stilted and unnatural – and some terms of expression were obviously influenced by Swedish rather than colloquial Australian.

A good debut.

Post Script: The Falling Detective – Christoffer Carlsson

The Falling Detective

The Falling Detective

The Leo Junker Series #2

Christoffer Carlsson

Translated by Michael Gallagher

Scribe

ISBN: 9781925321210

 

Description:

The second instalment in the internationally bestselling Leo Junker series.

 

Leo Junker is back in the snake pit — aka the homicide unit — after a murder case where he was the intended victim. Still abusing prescription drugs and battling his inner demons, he’s doing his best to appear fit for duty.

 

Then a sociologist named Thomas Heber is found murdered. The only clues the police have to work with are Heber’s cryptic research notes, which indicate that someone else’s life is also under threat. But who?

 

Leo is put on the Heber case with his former nemesis Gabriel Birck, but when the case is abruptly reassigned to the Swedish Security Service, he realises this is no ordinary street mugging. Soon he finds himself entangled in a clash between a racist gang and their rivals, and enters a war that’s being waged on the streets, in the public eye, and in the shadows.

 

 

 

My View:

Clues like these…mean nothing in isolation, without the story that ties them all together. They are like road signs without symbols or letters. (p.39)

 

An interesting modern police procedural with relevant contemporary references to global social and political issues.  It is also a domestic  story about friendship, trust and betrayal and demonstrates just how easy it is for people to be manipulated by fear – of being exposed (for behaviours they do not wish made public or to be made accountable for) fear of rejection, of not belonging, of not living up to others expectations.

 

Carlsson offers many astute observations of life and society throughout the book, this one particular observation resonated with me: (of Michael and Christian p. 100) They were fifteen, and both believed that they understood everything. In fact they understood nothing.  

 

Sociology and crime make for an interesting read, however I feel that as I missed reading the first book in this series I missed the connections between characters and didn’t have the background to understand some of the complicated relationships – I wanted to know what had happened to Leo, why he was taking medication, why he was hallucinating, showing obvious other signs of PTS (I knew it was to do with an incident relating to a shooting but little else). Whilst Carlsson provides some background information in this episode there is not enough for the new reader to be able to pick up the intricacies or nuances of relationships.  I really wanted to know more about Leo and Grim, about Leo and Birck, about Leo and Sam.  Regardless of my lack of history of some of the characters, this was still is an interesting look at some social political groups and situations that could easily become reality.

 

**The series will shortly be developed into a three season TV drama by StellNova Film.