Sunday, 9 September 2018
Amatka, by Karin Tidbeck (Vintage) | review by Stephen Theaker
One of the first Philip K. Dick novels I read was Time Out of Joint, where a chap in a picture perfect American town starts to notice that things are wrong, that things aren’t really there, just pieces of paper bearing the names of things. This excellent novel, originally published in Sweden in 2012, and translated by the author for this edition, is about a world where people must name things in order for them to exist. That makes for a riveting plot, a Kafkaesque mood, and a real mystery, and it also reflects how language works in our world too, how it divides reality up into manageable portions. For example think how the colour orange didn’t exist as a separate entity until the fruit gave it that name.
It’s also a book about romance, oppression, intellectual curiosity, the effect of separating children from their parents (all children here are brought up in dormitories), and it fits all that into an efficient two hundred pages. The best praise I can give the book is that it lives up to the author’s excellent short story collection, Jagannath. ****