What I’ve Been Reading Recently – Lucinda (June 2021)
It’s stopped raining, things are looking more positive…so a perfect moment for me to dive in to some distinctly darker reads! First up is a bonkers Danish road trip, as infirm twenty-something Waldemar and his fallen-from-grace carer, Asger, set off across Europe in a beat up Volkswagen Transporter in search of a Moroccan healer. Their own lives are far from conventional, but they meet a host of similarly disenfranchised characters along the way – and for Waldemar, it seems death is always nipping at his heels. The plot has detours and diversions aplenty and the narrative is loaded with black humour. Next up is an unflinching examination of a deeply troubled childhood by Swedish novelist Karin Smirnoff. Twins Jana and Bror are reunited when Jana returns to her family home, dredging up past secrets about their father’s abusive behaviour. Written in Jana’s distinctive voice, we are immersed in her snowy, desolate, crumbling homestead as she unpicks the trauma that has blighted not only her life, but has impacted the wider community. Finally, Japanese novelist Mieko Kawakami’s ‘Heaven’ embodies her hallmark sensitive, quirky characters and their fascinating interior lives, but this time she sets them against a much darker backdrop. Her fourteen year old protagonist suffers at the hands of school bullies because he has a lazy eye. He finds a soul-mate in Kojima, a young girl similarly preyed upon by her peers and together they attempt to intellectualise their problems and rise above the cruelty. Their passivity, however, allows the bullying to escalate. Genuinely ‘gently unsettling’. Now…where’s my happy place…?
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