Saturday, 25 November 2017

Teemestarin kirja - Emmi Itäranta

'Kaikki maailmassa ei ole ihmisten. Tee ja vesi eivät kuulu teemestareille, vaan teemestarit kuuluvat teelle ja vedelle. Olemme veden vartijoita, mutta ennen kaikkea olemme sen palvelijoita.'

'All in the world is not men's. Tea and water don't belong to the tea masters, but tea masters belong to tea and water. We are the guardians of water, but most of all we are its servants.'

I finished this book at my favourite tea place on the
day it closed down ;o;
Hello again!

Yet another dystopia, yes, I am aware. I've been meaning to read this one ever since I picked it up some two years ago, and I finally got around to it as part of my Finland 100 thing. It has a blue and white cover too! Here's also a Finnish book I recommend you read in English, as the Finnish and English versions of the book were written side by side, so you'll get the authentic experience, kind of. Pikkuunen is actually going to host a web reading group on this book on her blog soon, so it was a good time for me to read it.

Teemestarin kirja (lit. The Book of the Tea Master, but the English edition is called Memory of Water.  There's also lots of translations to other languages!) is the story of Noria Kaitio, a tea master in a world where some sort of catastrophe has turned water into a scarce resource. She finds herself guarding a secret that could cost her everything, but her and her best friend are also working on uncovering something long lost...

It was a great read, to me. It was refreshing to read something that felt, at the same time, so Finnish but also so foreign. There's a lot of Chinese tea ceremony -remnant elements in this book, blended with the normal, and it just worked. It's also beautiful writing in general.

Both Noria and her friend Sanja were really cool characters. It's always nice when the female mains are so self-sufficient (there's no romance in this book whatsoever, weird. I made a no romance tag since some people just hate that very deeply, you're welcome!). Noria especially spends most of the book completely on her own, and she grows a lot throughout it.

It was also a very well-written and thoughtful book. It flows both slow and fast, like water, and pauses to wonder and question. It felt depressingly real, with hints of global warming and other such catastophes. I also really enjoyed the 'not everything is humans'' aspect I picked my top quote for. It's a good thing to remember in this time of seemingly endless human greed. I suppose really the only reason I didn't give it five stars but four is because as a whole, the experience wasn't quite as life-changing as it could have been (it's easy to compare it to The Handmaid's Tale since I read these so close to each other).

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I couldn't find a place for this (haha, surprising isn't it?). I mean, I guess it would count for something I only know a little bit (tea ceremony?) but I bet myself I'll find something I know even less about before year end!

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