Katri Lipson: Jäätelökauppias [The ice-cream vendor]

25 October 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Jäätelökauppias
[The ice-cream vendor]
Helsinki: Tammi, 2012. 300 p.
ISBN 978-951-31-6868-1
€ 36.20, hardback

The Finnish novel of the 2000s has been successfully set in other cultures. Like Kristina Carlson and Sofi Oksanen, Katri Lipson went her own way as an author in her award-winning debut novel Kosmonautti (‘Cosmonaut’, 2008), which was set in the Soviet Union of the 1980s. In her second novel Lipson (born 1965), who works as a doctor in Helsinki, portrays life in post-war Czechoslovakia. The novel begins with the making of a film. The director wants to work without a script, which is only in her head. The filming proceeds chronologically, so that the actors will not anticipate what happens to the characters in the future. The film tells the story of a man and a woman’s flight from danger in 1942. Although they do not know each other, they pretend to be a married couple and hide in the countryside. What will be their fate during the war and afterwards is left to the reader; the characters can be combined with those appearing in the novel’s later stages, in the 1960s and even the 1980s. Lipson’s technique boldly breaks with the supremacy of narrative and calls into question the construction of historical truth.
Translated by David McDuff

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