‘The Summer Child’ is an interesting read today

Jansson’s prose is wondrous: it is clean, deliberate; an aesthetic so certain of itself it’s breathtaking (Daily Telegraph)

travelling lightI can’t improve on the DT’s crisp description of Tove Jansson’s beautiful writing. On my iPad I borrowed from Edinburgh City Libraries her collection of short stories Travelling Light. I am reading each one slowly and with appreciation for the philosophy behind it and the quality of the actual prose. I feel as if I am breathing pure oxygen as I read these works.

Tove Jansson was Finnish but she wrote this book in Swedish. It was highly acclaimed in its original language so it is doubly impressive that the translation into English manages to deliver the same power and clarity to the reader. Silvester Mazzarella deserves praise for his English version.

One of the stories, The Summer Child paints a picture of a city boy who comes to stay with a family which lives on an island in the Gulf of Finland. Elis, the boy, seems to have the personality of an alien as he fails to fit in with this warm and welcoming family. He causes friction and rifts and huge levels of frustration in the parents. The desire to know what happens next urges you on.

I had forgotten that I read Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book last year and I recognised the same freshness and intelligence in this short story collection before I remembered this extraordinary author.

oh, if I could write a tenth as well as this!


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Filed under short stories, writing

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