Eeva-Kaarina Aronen: Kallorumpu [Skull drum]
Helsinki: Teos, 2011. 390 p.
€ 27.40, hardback
Eeva-Kaarina Aronen (born 1948) did not begin her writing career untill 2005, after a long career as editor of the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. Her third novel Kallorumpu was shortlisted for the Finlandia Prize for Fiction 2011. Aronen’s interest in historical characters and themes that challenge historical truth was already evident in the of her first novel Maria Renforsin totuus (‘The truth of Maria Renfors’, Teos, 2005). At the centre of Kallorumpu is the legendary figure of Finland’s Field Marshal C.G. Mannerheim (1867–1951). The book concentrates on the description of one day in November 1935 by an old filmmaker, the narrator of the novel, who is showing his documentary to a small group of viewers in the present day. He comments on his own film, complementing it with stories about Mannerheim’s home in Helsinki. At home the Marshal’s staff – a cook, a maid and a valet – not only provide narrative twists and turns, but also an insight into the class divisions of the Finnish civil war. Aronen’s portrayal of her gallery of characters is an interesting one, and the novel’s demanding structure, with its alternating time zones, is sound.
Translated by David McDuff
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