The Year in Books | April 2016

Another month, another book to dive into, and I couldn't be happier about it. Last month's book, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, was a much quicker read, so much so that I finished it in just a few sittings. It was an enjoyable book, darkly humorous in places, raw and emotional in others. Written by an American, Vendela Vida, the story centres on Clarissa, a New Yorker who on the day of her father's funeral discovers he wasn't her father at all. The family had been abandoned by her mother when Clarissa was 14-years-old, and now grown up and engaged she leaves everything behind and goes in search of the truth - with her quest taking her over to Helsinki and up into Finnish Lapland; the the land of the Sami indigenous tribe. 

Vida's prose is sparse, yet full of meaning and it echoes the cold, dark setting of Lapland perfectly. I found myself carried along as Clarissa traveled further, met more characters and uncovered more about her past. The main premise of the book is a discussion on the past and its implications on the present and future. Clarissa is so named inspired by Samuel Richardson's heroine, "with the hope you'd rewrite history". Vida too acknowledges the inspiration she drew from Galen Strawson's essay, Against Narrativity saying that it made her "curious about the kind of person who would see their past as unconnected to their present".

In short, this was a quick and easy read, that placed me right in the heart of the Sami land, following along as Clarissa fumbles around trying to uncover the truth of her past. The wider themes of the past, present and how we can rewrite history, stayed with me as I mulled on the story days after I'd finished reading. 

The Year in Books - April 2016 | Gathered Cheer blog

And so onto the new book for April, The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna. I've only just started, but the main idea behind this fable set in the Finnish wilderness is a compelling one...

A journalist and a photographer set out on an assignment on lovely sunny evening. As they drive through the country they hit a young hare. Vatanen, the journalist, leaves the car and goes in search of the injured creature. The grateful animal adopts Vatanen and together the two scamper through farcical adventures and political scandal.

I'll be back next month to let you know how I got on.Are you reading anything good right now? Can you recommened any Nordic authors I need to add to my list? Please just leave a little comment below - thank you!


Photo credit - Shot and styled by Ruth Garner for Gathered Cheer