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Hash Paperback – April 26, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook TP (April 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585676519
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585676514
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,014,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two seekers pursue the perfect plate of hash, and, by extension, the force of life in Lindgren's sparkling novel (after Bathsheba and The Way of the Serpent). In 1947, a newspaper reporter is fired for fabricating stories ("The dramatic week-long struggle to rescue an elk from Hob™ck Marsh," his editor accuses him, "never took place.... [and t]here has never been a turkey farm ravaged by a bear in your district") and forbidden to write another word. For more than five decades the reporter doesn't put pen to paper. As a 107-year-old inmate in the Sunnybank Rest Home, he returns, after his editor dies, to the story he left unfinished, which concerned two newcomers to the Swedish village of Avaback, site of a tuberculosis epidemic. Schoolteacher Lars Hogstrom picked the post ("pulmonary tuberculosis [is] closest to my heart," he quips) while Martin Bormann was an escaped Nazi war criminal then calling himself Robert Maser. United by their love of music and passion for hash, Maser (posing as a traveling fabric salesman) and Hogstrom had set off on a quest to sample all of the region's hashes, a journey at once comical and sublime. Hash, whose foul ingredients (hooves, offal, entrails, grain, etc.) add up to a surprising delicacy, symbolizes life, love, art and mercy. Tuberculosis—a "fickle" disease that leads, Maser suggests, to "[m]odernist poetry. Atonal music. Anarchic political programs.... pure and simple idiocy," represents, among other things, death's power to make life more precious. Above all, this sly and gleeful novel is about storytelling itself, about how fiction—even fiction cooked up from a recipe of grotesqueries and absurdity—can contain fundamental truths.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In December 1947, for the newspaper to which he corresponds from northern Sweden, a middle-aged man is writing about two newcomers to the village of Avaback: a schoolteacher, just released as cured from the tuberculosis sanitarium in which he spent his youth, and a middle-aged clothing peddler, who the writer believes is missing Nazi leader Martin Bormann. Then a messenger arrives with a termination letter from the newspaper editor, who has researched the places the writer reports on, only to be told that they don't exist. The writer stops writing, for 53 years, resuming at age 107, only after he has outlived old age and is regaining lost powers and attributes: his hair is growing dark again, and he doesn't need glasses to read anymore. He takes up where he left off. The newcomers become friends, start to sing in harmony for recreation, and occupy their weekends with a project to taste all the local recipes for hash. Alternating between past and present, and inserting himself as a scrawny, ill boy in 1948, Lindgren keeps the style plain and the humor dry throughout a comic masterpiece that, if it delivers no horselaughs, has one chuckling and smiling all the way through. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. C. Walter on June 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
In post-war Sweden a middle-aged reporter--whose articles resemble fairy tales more than real journalism--receives a devastating letter from his editor, ending with the line: I forbid you to write another word! The reporter takes this ban literally and immediately renounces his vocation. But 50 years later, at the age of 107, he unexpectedly finds the ban lifted. He takes up exactly where he left off, chronicling the near-mystical, life-changing effects of Swedish hash (minced meat that is spiced and cured) on a pair of very eccentric men.

This novel was a slow knockout. Lindgren's peculiar creativity snuck up on me, and my enthusiasm for the book just grew and grew through the course of the story. It was a near-perfect blend of enigma, quirky humor, metafiction, and magical realism. In fact, the novel is comparable to some of the better efforts of Haruki Murakami, Richard Brautigan, and Mark Helprin. Here Lindgren has fashioned a piece of absorbing literary whimsy, an ideal read for anyone who enjoys getting lost in a bizarre dream world.

After this, Lindgren's next best novel in English translation is probably Light. However, the story collection Merab's Beauty may be a little better than either of them!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Potentialist on May 15, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a great book by possibly the greatest living writer. Torgny Lindgren is revered all around the world but is not read much in the US. He has three books in a kind of trilogy of dark humor. The books are funny like Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett, Voltaire, Swift or Cervantes are funny. The other two books of Lindren's possible trilogy are Sweetness, and Light. All three are very dark and very funny. They are about illnesses often plague-like illnesses and about choices and grudges and traditional foods and bad choices.
If you like books that make you think then read this.
If you like only American author's skip this.
If you watch a lot of TV skip this.
This is the work of a genius.
If you like the Dalkey Archive then buy it today.
If you like Flann O'brien, Par Lagerkvist, Italo Calvino, Voltaire, Oe, etc read this.
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Macdonald on December 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
My girlfriend's brother enjoyed the Swedish version of this book and bought me the English version for Christmas. He stated that the Swedish version was written in a distinct dialect that made the book quite funny and enjoyable. He hoped that the translation could capture some of the humour.

I looked forward to reading a tale about the country I'm now living in and started the book on the train ride back from Christmas. Fifty pages in and there was no real plot; I searched my bag for an unread book. After having no luck, I bought a coffee and continued on. Unfortunately, it didn't get any better.

Dialogue was followed by more dialogue, the story wandered around never really getting anywhere interesting. The character's reactions to the unfolding events were usually totally absurd and I sincerely hope that it was part of the intended humour.

I finished the book satisfied that it was finished (there's nothing worse than a 75% read book), but I kept feeling that I'd missed the point or that the story was a metaphor. This may well be the case, but in terms of a story - it's illogical and one dimensional.
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