Sunday, March 6, 2011

World Book Day/Night

I've had a lot of time to read in recent months and it struck me this week, in thinking about World Book Day, how much of that reading has been about escaping into other worlds.  In particular the cold and gloomy landscape of Nordic crime novels. 

I've been to Sweden with Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson, to Norway with Karin Fossum and Jo Nesbø, travelled in Iceland with Arnaldur Indridason, and voyaged from Denmark to Greenland with Peter Høeg.

Literary qualities vary from the Rock and Roll Nesbø, to the soulfulness and social conscience of Mankell and the poetic Høeg (Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow) but there's something about those cold climes, people pitting themselves against the snow and ice and aware of the changing landscape and light, that is engaging and suits the crime thriller genre - lots of potential for danger and picturesque crime scenes...

Maybe it's because I've never really travelled to any of these places that I enjoy escaping there in books.  That sense of a different way of life glimpsed even through translation.

For a writer it's good to be able to 'adjust reality' slightly, to imagine a world slightly other, which is why I've also dipped into Japanese fiction recently as well.  In particular the bizarre and dark horror stories of Otsuichi (Zoo) and fiction of Natsuo Kirino - In her novel Out, four Japanese women with difficult lives, working the graveyard shift in a packed lunch factory, get drawn into a dark and murderous world.  It's very gripping and I couldn't imagine the novel working transposed to an English setting, with English characters, which is why I liked it - the behaviour and perspective are slightly an interesting way...

No comments:

Post a Comment