Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Rikinkeltainen taivas - Kjell Westö

'What's happened in the book?' Daniel asked me many times while I was reading this.
'Nothing much,' I responded, every time.

I downloaded BookBeat on my phone mostly so that I could listen to more Finnish books (looking at you, Audible) and this was the first book I picked up, mostly because it's one of my mum's recent favourites and also rather popular otherwise.

Rikinkeltainen taivas ('Sulfur-Yellow Sky', free translation) is Helsinki-based author Kjell Westö's seventh novel. Like his previous works, the original text is in Swedish ('Den svavelgula himlen') but I read the Finnish translation. The book is set in Helsinki and spans from the 1960s to the present day. It's the story of the Narrator (he never gets a name, how cool is that? Fight Club feelings.) meeting the wealthy Alex and Stella Rabell and their lives both together and apart. And honestly, that's all that really happens in this book - the rest of it is just life.

It's a little weird, granted. There's no real drama arc or really anything else. However, Westö writes these characters so real and genuine, I found myself really enjoying the real life of someone who doesn't even exist. This is because you rarely get a real person you don't even know telling you about their life this honestly.

I didn't give this a full 5/5 because... well. I hear a lot of people say this wasn't Westö's best work and I feel like he can probably do a little better still, and I want to leave some space for that. Maybe he could do all this, but also have something happen in it?

I hope one day I'll be able to read Westö's works in Swedish (don't laugh at me for this, mum!). Sometimes in this book people specifically speak Swedish and sometimes Finnish, and that just doesn't really translate.

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