Marjo Niemi: Ihmissyöjän ystävyys [The cannibal’s friendship]

8 May 2013 | Mini reviews, Reviews

ihmissyojaIhmissyöjän ystävyys
[The cannibal’s friendship]
Helsinki: Teos, 2012. 402 p.
ISBN 978-951-851-359-2
€27.80, hardback

Marjo Niemi’s third novel may be described with the adjective ‘intemperate’. The book’s narrator is a thirty-something woman who is inclined to ranting. A friend’s suicide drives her to depression, which breaks out in endless criticism of her friends’ lifestyles. Her tolerance is tested not only by her hedonistic friends but also by an entire continent: she wallows in endless diatribes about the history of Europe and its injustices. The bubbling text forms a meta-level, a book within a book. Only writing seems meaningful: ‘I am really not going to write about my life, because life is a ridiculous joke compared to literature.’ The Great Novel that is being built by the narrator gradually opens out into a story about a mental hospital psychiatrist and one of his patients who has suffered a loss of memory. The author sees her work as a ‘poetic allegory of Europe ‘, but it is also a study of friendship, guilt, envy, and the difficulty of doing good. Caricature of an almost grotesque kind is skilfully combined with straight talking in this clever contemporary novel. Niemi (born 1978) is a dramaturge by training.
Translated by David McDuff


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