The Creator by Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir

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The Creator Translated from the Icelandic by Sarah Bowen

Five words from the blurb: dolls, thief, salvation, loneliness, understanding

The Creator is an unusual novel about two people, each with their own set of foibles. Sveinn makes sex dolls in a workshop at his home and Lóa is struggling to cope with her daughter, who is suffering from an eating disorder. This unlikely couple meet when Lóa’s car breaks down in front of Sveinn’s house and he agrees to help her fix it.

The Creator is beautifully written, but quite hard to classify – at first it feels like a complex crime novel, but it develops into a character study that focuses on loneliness and belonging.

The book is narrated alternately by Lóa and Sveinn, which means the reader gets to see everything from both perspectives. At times this device was cleverly utilised, but it also meant that the plot was sometimes repetitive.

Lóa and Sveinn were wonderfully complex characters and I connected with both of them. At times the plot wasn’t very realistic, but their reactions to events always felt honest and believable.

When she managed to open her eyes she noticed that the light had altered since she laid her head on the pillow. The afternoon had engulfed the morning like an invisible avalanche of snow. Sweat held her hair fast to her neck, hunger rumbled round her belly and an uneasy memory of the morning’s events lay in ambush behind every thought.

Don’t be put off by the sex dolls – this book isn’t sleazy or filled with sex. I found myself appreciating the skill and patience needed to create these life-like sculptures, which seemed to be used for companionship more than anything else in this book.

My only complaint is that the plot seemed to fizzle out towards the end. The power of the first few chapters was never repeated and I occasionally lost interest in the slower paced scenes.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys literary novels that peek into the lives of dysfunctional people.

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9 Comments

  1. I’m interested in this foremost because it’s an Icelandic author (and a new one to discover). The story sounds good and I LOVE it when you get to hear the story from more than one perspective, but yes, if it gets repetitive, it may be a bit of a slog.

    It’s a book I might like to read…

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, I wouldn’t describe this book as a slog to read. It does a far better job of the dual perspectives than Lionel Shriver’s book (not sure if you’ve read The Post-Birthday World?) but there were a few moments when I got tired of reading the same scene again. I think you might like this one.

      1. Jackie, I didn’t read The Post-Birthday World, but I’ll put The Creator on my wishlist, it sounds interesting enough.

  2. Ifi says:

    Darn! Another one for my wish list. Actually, never mind the wish list, straight into the checkout basket with this one.

    This one sounds right up my ally Jackie. Foreign translation AND off beat! Yay.

    A couple of years ago I watched this documentary about people who have / buy these sex dolls. It was utterly intriguing and needless to say, bizarre. We have all, of course, heard about good old regular blow up dollies (I should hope) but this is not the same thing. These were sex dolls that were custom made!! and cost THOUSANDS of dollars, and, as you say, were intended for company!!!!! These dolls came alive in their owners heads…. they had names, sat at the breakfast table, watched TV with the owner, were tucked into bed. ..etc. Like an invalid wife. Gosh, this was something totally new to me. (Shoot, and I thought I had seen it all ). Quite honestly I think it irked me more that these dolls were intended more as a form of companionship than as a sex toy. Very SAD and disturbing. Soooo, I think, a very interesting read, especially when one realizes that this might not be totally fictional.

    Trust you to keep us on our toes Jackie.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ifi, Yes. It sounds like the documentary you watched is very similar to this book. The dolls are more like personally designed friends/works of art than seedy sex toys. It’s not a subject I’ve thought about before so it was good to have more insight into it. Hope you enjoy this book if you decide to give it a go.

  3. Tony says:

    I agree that the constant back and forth slowed the pace a little, but it was important for the story, allowing the reader to see both sides :)

    Here’s my review from a few weeks back:

    http://tonysreadinglist.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/something-little-like-life.html

    1. Jackie says:

      Tony, I liked the switching most of the time, but there were a few moments in the book when it annoyed me. It sounds as though we both enjoyed this one. Hopefully we’ll be able to find some more great Icelandic novels soon.

  4. stujallen says:

    I like sound of this pone Jackie ,have vaguely been aware of it think it was at my local ,library the other week when was looking for something else .All the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I think you’ll enjoy this one. The only downside is that it doesn’t really feel very Icelandic. Apart from the names and the occasional mention of a place this book could have been set anywhere in the world. I’ll have to look elsewhere for the Icelandic atmosphere I’m craving at the moment. :-(

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