Source: Free review copy received from publisher
Translated from the Norwegian by Agnes Scott Langeland
Professor Andersen’s Night by Dag Solstad
Five words from the blurb: alone, sees, murder, indecision, moralist
Professor Andersen’s Night is a fantastic little book, but I didn’t want to write a full review for fear of giving too much away. The novella begins with Professor Andersen witnessing a murder, but he is unsure about what he really saw and so fails to report the crime. As time passes he feels increasingly guilty and tries to think of the best way to remedy the situation.
He was really unwell, his head ached, he saw spots before his eyes and felt queasy all the time, but didn’t throw up. He put on his pyjamas and went straight to bed. But he couldn’t lie still, so he got up, put on his dressing gown and wandered around his apartment, from room to room. This day, and the next day, and the day after that. While he brooded. He had no idea what to do.
This book was very wordy with no chapter breaks and very few paragraphs, but the internal monologue was intelligent and compelling. It could be described as a cross between Hunger by Knut Hamsun and The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka; and is equally deserving of a place in the literature canon.
Recommended to anyone who enjoys intelligent literature.
Source: Personal copy
Translated from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich
The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue
Five words from the blurb: letters, women, affair, tragic, truth
The Hunting Gun is small, but perfectly formed. It contains letters from a woman, her daughter, and an abandoned wife – each explaining how an affair impacted on their lives. The writing was simple, but powerful and showed real insight into the way secrets destroy relationships.
There was nothing between us but the quiet lapping of water, like waves on the seashore. The veil behind which we had hidden our secret for thirteen years had been brutally ripped away, but what I saw underneath it was not the death that had obsessed me so, but something I can hardly think how to describe, something like peace, quietness – yes, a peculiar feeling of release.
The joy of reading books in translation is that you get to see how other cultures react to familiar situations. It was interesting to see how Japanese restraint influenced their actions; whilst their thoughts and emotions were identical to a British person dealing with an affair.
The Hunting Gun was so short it could be read in a single sitting. I prefer a more complex plot, but was impressed by the power of the emotion in this book and am keen to read more by this author.