From Publishers Weekly
Nordic alienation and reflection meet a critique of American cultural dominance in this suspenseful literary hybrid. Finnish Westö's first novel to be translated into English follows the dramatic midlife turns of Christian Lang, a sometime Helsinki writer whose pseudointellectual talk show boosted him to local fame. Lang's problem is not so much a failed marriage and looming cancellation as that he's fallen out of step with his culture, which is entering capitalist hyperspace and expressing itself through reality TV and Game Boys. Lang delivers a defense of empathy (as opposed to me-firstism) in his final show, but an obsessive love affair with a beautiful, independent and secretive young mother reveals itself as an entanglement with dark and strange passions, all of which lead to unanswerable questions of innocence and intent. Westö's most remarkable talent is for describing the existential vertigo that leads his bookish characters to alarming acts. (Feb. 1)
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The title character in this slow-burning suspense story is something of a Scandinavian Norman Mailer just past the peak of his cultural moment. Christian Lang, "post-modern prize catch in the muddy sea of Nordic realism," is a Finnish novelist and creator of The Blue Hour
, a popular interview show. But he hasn't written much lately, and he'll soon be reduced to appearing on Who Wants
to Be a Millionaire? Casting about for something new to feed his soul and his enormous ego, he chances upon Sarita, an intelligent young beauty who adores him but can't disentangle herself from an abusive ex. The book opens with Lang calling a fellow novelist in the middle of the night to borrow a shovel. That friend narrates Lang's story, delivering a deft, downbeat meditation on the important ways in which people can't be there for each other--and the surprising ways in which, when the chips are down, they suddenly find they can. Westo's gift for misdirection also enables him to slip in an emotionally charged twist that will force readers to reassess all that comes before it. Frank SennettCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved