Initially confusing but ultimately moving and grimly funny.
In Stockholm, a young man’s death forces his friends to consider their culpability.
At the outset of Swedish novelist and playwright Khemiri’s novel, the protagonist is already dead. The mission of the novel is to piece together the how and why. Samuel, the main character, is killed in a single-car collision with a tree, whether due to bad brakes or suicidal intent is unclear. Flashbacks and flash-forwards follow, narrated in short segments by, among others, Samuel; his friend and housemate, Vandad; and his ex-lover Laide. Samuel and Laide met through their work; he is a functionary with the Migration Board, dealing with residency permits, and she is an interpreter of Arabic and other languages. Laide is also an activist who participates in demonstrations against anti-immigration policies and who establishes, in a house vacated by Samuel’s grandmother, a shelter for women, many of them abused, who have fled the Middle East. Vandad, who, it appears, may be gay and attracted to Samuel, is a large man who works as an enforcer for a loan shark until his conscience gets the better of him. He tries more legitimate employment as a mover without much success. Samuel’s grandmother, who suffers from dementia, has moved into a nursing home. At first Laide and Samuel’s affair blossoms, but it sours in less than a year. When Laide breaks it off, Vandad, out of misguided loyalty to Samuel, reverts to thuggish form in trying to persuade her to reconsider. The grandmother’s house is soon overrun with refugees, a fire starts, and Samuel’s despair mounts as his family questions why he allowed this to happen, and he himself wonders why he trusted Laide. The piecemeal structure, an agglomeration of vignettes, makes it hard to identify who is narrating. Although the postmodern presentation is initially off-putting, the characters, once we discern who’s talking, are deftly drawn. Their voices, resonating with internal conflict and arch humor, are ably rendered in Willson-Broyles’ translation.Initially confusing but ultimately moving and grimly funny.
Pub Date: June 2, 2016
Page Count: 272
Review Posted Online: April 12, 2016
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016
Share your opinion of this book
by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).
A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Pub Date: June 16, 2020
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
Share your opinion of this book
More About This Book
BOOK TO SCREEN
by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Pub Date: March 17, 2020
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
Share your opinion of this book
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!