sunnuntai 27. heinäkuuta 2014

Summer Business

So I've been away as I haven't had the time to read in several weeks due to all kinds of fuss about moving. Now I'm finally living in Espoo where I'll start working in a couple of weeks. I'm really excited (and a bit scared) about all the new things: new job, new home, new city, new people... but at least so far it feels really good! I love the animals around here, a squirrel visits my balcony every morning.

As you may have noticed, I have a habit to talk about things that have nothing to do with the actual topic. Or well, in this case I think the topic would cover all the things I've been doing but let's not go there (; Though I must say that I love my new home even though I need to get another bookshelf. I actually organized my paperbacks like this: I took a book, translated its title randomly into English and then put them in alphabetical order by that title. What I mean by randomly is that I did not use the original English title (unless the book was in English) but translated it word by word or in some other way that popped my mind. I don't know if anyone else thinks it's funny but well. Ha ha.

The text this time is about Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner (2003), recommended by basically everyone. For the list it was @ediszon who mentioned Hosseini. Also my mum has been talking a lot about him but for some reason I haven't read any of his work. In addition, this book is a part of the syllabus in the fall, which is why I decided to read it asap.

The Kite Runner is about deception, loyalty and cultural rules; about two little boys that grow up both as brothers but also as master and servant. The protagonist Amir lives with his respected and rich father and their servants, Ali and his son Hassan. Amir goes to school and reads stories aloud to Hassan, who cannot read and who Amir constantly teases about his ignorance. Hassan would do anything for his best friend - and so would Amir... or would he? There is a hierarchy that creates a difference between the boys, which makes it easier and harder for Amir to play his cards in a way he doesn't need to take responsibility no matter what his conscience says. In the end, however, the debts are to be paid in several different matters.

And well, what should I say? I loved the description of the culture, the huge differences compared to the culture of my own. The story was good and interesting, easy and quick to read - but the basis of the story was so easy to guess that it made me yawn. Also I do understand the vibe that comes when you write in a language (If I understood correctly, Hosseini writes in English?) and then add some words of your own to emphasize the culture and whatever. It is nice when Hosseini does that - in greetings and other phrases that are typical for the culture - but please, does he need to do it all the time, with any words?! My copy is again in Finnish, so the examples are translated by me:
"Good morning, kunis!" he shouted. The word kuni meant faggot and was one of his favorite insults. 
 "When do I get to sing alahu for my little navaz?"
I mean please. If the words are not translated, the meaning is easy to understand from the context (in the latter example alahu is lullaby, navaz grandchild) so it doesn't make it more difficult to understand or anything - it's just irritating. I believe it's the same kind of thing as the dashes in my texts - nice a few times but already annoying in the last passage. (;

Nice read, it was, and I'm sure I will read the two others; A Thousand Splendid Suns and And the Mountains Echoed. Right now, though, I am more excited with the book I'm currently reading, Stephen King's 22/11/63. The Kite Runner gets a grade of 3,5/7.

My copy: Hosseini, Khaled 2003/2009: Leijapoika. Suom. Erkki Jukarainen. Keuruu: Otava.

torstai 10. heinäkuuta 2014

Off The List 1: Purge

Even though Sofi Oksanen's Purge (Puhdistus, 2008) seems to be on the list, it actually isn't: I read it immediately when it was published and did not enjoy as much as one should - according to the critics and basically everyone. I do like Oksanen's previous works (Stalin's Cows and Baby Jane), which I believe is due the themes and subjects that touch me more personally.

The reason I re-read this book was because 1) I had a feeling I should and 2) it's part of the syllabus next fall and it's difficult to teach a book you can't remember anything of. And this is why it's on the list even though it sort of isn't.
Incredulous laughter raced from one town to the next, from village to village. The catchphrases — We’re fighting for Stalin’s great cause and We will liquidate illiteracy — provoked endless amusement. They couldn’t possibly be serious! The biggest joke of all was the officers’ wives, prancing around in fringed nightgowns in the villages, at the dances, in the streets. And what about those Red Army soldiers, peeling boiled potatoes with their fingernails like they didn’t know how to use a knife? Who could take a bunch like them seriously? But then people started disappearing and the laughter turned bitter. When they started loading up women, men, and children for slaughter, the stories were repeated like prayers. Aliide and Ingel’s father was snatched from the main road to the village. Their mother just disappeared; the girls came home to find the house empty, and yelled like animals. The dog wouldn’t stop waiting for its master; it sat next to the porch and howled with longing until it died. No one dared to go about their business outside, the land groaned under a flood of sorrow, and someone was added to the family of the dead in every grave dug in Estonian soil. The tumult of the front moved over every part of the country, and every part of the country cried out for help to Jesus, Germany, and the old gods. (Read more)

Purge covers three generations by telling the stories of two of them. The story begins from the year 1992, when Aliide Truu finds a girl, Zara, on her yard in the Estonian countryside and decides to help her as she tells her she's running from her violent husband. Actually Zara is Aliide's sister Ingel's grandchild who's been working as a prostitute in Vladivostok but got away and is looking for a way to get home. Simultaneously the book tells the story of Aliide and Ingel's youth - what happens when they both love the man Ingel marries, what is it like to live under the power of communism and what is needed to do to protect the ones you love - and the story of Zara - how she wants to work in the rich west but ends up paying a debt that never really existed with her own body. Purge is a historical and in some senses autobiographical novel that began from a story (in Finnish) Oksanen heard as a child. The terrifying truth that really glows from the story is what makes Purge so touching.

I tried to be rather negative and sceptical but couldn't - I love the way Oksanen writes and describes everything. The describing text is sometimes terrible to read as at least I feel I wouldn't want to know that much, it's too easy to picture it all. I read the paperback version which also included the opera libretto. That was amazing as it was like a raw version of the novel - only two acts that say so incredibly much. I watched the movie some time ago (It was horrible but easily the best Finnish movie ever, do check it out!) but would really be interested in seeing the play or the opera. In the paperback version there were also pictures of flies on the pages, which I found absolutely adorable. Well, the flies are not very adorable, but I just loved the fact that there were some. Can't include a pic though, as I already returned my copy to the library.

The rights of Purge are sold to 43 territories so there is no excuse not to read it. I don't know how well the translations work but I will check it out some day and read it at least in English.

Edit:// Oh I completely forgot!! I give the book 5/7, of which one point might just be because of the flies and the libretto.

My copy:
Oksanen, Sofi 2008/2012: Puhdistus. Helsinki: Silberfeldt.

lauantai 5. heinäkuuta 2014

Do Not Read This Book

My future collague, Annika, talked about a crime novel where the murderer is not revealed. I've never been much into crime or detective literature but this got me super excited. Also, I studied crime literature a little while writing my master's thesis and understood that nowadays it's not always the butler who is guilty! Still I find it rather difficult to grab a book I know is a detective story of some kind.

Tässä on kysymys Siitä Kamalasta, tässä mihin nyt ryhdyn, siitä tietysti, mutta kyllä muustakin. Sen kohtalokkaan tapahtuman vuoksihan minä muistan kesän 196- voimakkaammin kuin minkään muun kasvuaikojeni kesän. Sen synkkä hohde lankeaa niin monen muun asian ylle. Minun ylleni, ja Edmundin. Äiti- ja isäraukan, ja veljeni, ja koko ajan ylle; tasangon kaupungin, ja sen ihmisten ja tapahtumien ja olosuhteiden, joita en ehkä ikinä olisi pystynyt kalastamaan unohduksen kaivosta, jollei sitä inhottavaa olisi tapahtunut. Sitä Kamalaa. - - "Tästä tulee kova kesä", isä sanoi. "Siihen taitaa olla paras varautua." 

Håkan Nesser's Kim Novak Never Swam in Genesaret's Lake (Kim Novak badade aldrig i Genesarets sjö, 1998) is about a boy, Erik, whose mother is in the hospital dying of cancer. 14-year-old Erik and his 22-year-old brother Henry together with Erik's friend Edmund go to Genesaret, their summer place, to spend their summer. Henry hooks up with Ewa Kaludis, a substitute teacher the young boys had at school and who is engaged to a famous handball player Berra Albertsson. One night Ewa comes to Genesaret all beaten-up and a few days after her fiancé is found dead at the parking area near the house the boys are living in. Henry is arrested and later freed in the lack of evidence.

I read this book in a day, which always is a good sign. (Also, it's my summer holiday so I've got nothing else to do...) What I really liked was that this book wasn't actually about the murder and who did it - the murder took place in the middle of the book and was present for the rest of it but wasn't the main issue. It was more about the boys, summer, growing up and falling in love. The love affairs actually surprised me, which is rather unusual. I also liked the point of view of the 14-year-old, the details in narration, and especially the game between Erik and Edmund to only talk with two word sentences.

The title of this text is actually misleading: I do recommend this book, even to those who - like me - aren't normally into detective fiction. If you can't stand the fact that you'll never find out the murderer, well, you lose the chance to read a good book - if you enjoy the possibility to make your own mind and maybe find some tiny hints to support your theory, go ahead. Nesser actually did write a book called Sanningen i fallet Bertil Albertsson? (link only in Swedish) ten years after the original novel to reveal the murderer, but it seems that the question mark in the end of the title is the most honest revelation Nesser is willing to give.

I think that a scale from 1 to 5 is never enough. That's why I give the book 4/7.

My copy:
Nesser, Håkan 1998/ 2005: Kim Novak ei uinut genesaretin järvessä. Suom. Saara Villa. Helsinki: Tammi.

tiistai 1. heinäkuuta 2014

Getting started...

So what's all this about? Just another blog about literature?

Yes, that exactly what I'm planning. Right now I'm collecting a list of books recommended for me. When that's done, I'll start reading the books and writing about them. So if you know an absolutely awesome book, please let me know by commenting to this post! I would love to read it. I am trying to get a list of books I've not yet read, but hey, some books are lovely to re-read - and re-reading some is like giving them a second chance, not all books are amazing at the first time.

Right now I feel like writing in English, which has to do with my interest in Instagram - as I've had some interesting discussions in a place I've called the anti-social media (oh how wrong I've been!), I would love that some of these people would also have the chance to read this blog. However, my native language is Finnish and I also love Swedish (and should practice it...) so occasionally you might run into these languages as well.

I will publish the book list immediately when it's ready and then start reading asap. It might, however, take a while, so you can follow my current readings in Goodreads (Minea) and/ or in Instagram (@kiertolainen). Note that my Instagram account also has dozens of pictures of my cats, lionhead rabbit and all kinds of random stuff in addition to book covers and challenges.

Now it's raining outside so I think I'll just sit by the window and continue reading The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.