A New York Review Books Original
Deception the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell others is the subject of this, Tove Jansson's most unnerving and unpredictable novel. Here Jansson takes a darker look at the subjects that animate the best of her work, from her sensitive tale of island life, "The Summer Book," to her famous Moomin stories: solitude and community, art and life, love and hate.
Snow has been falling on the village all winter long. It covers windows and piles up in front of doors. The sun rises late and sets early, and even during the day there is little to do but trade tales. This year everybody's talking about Katri Kling and Anna Aemelin. Katri is a yellow-eyed outcast who lives with her simpleminded brother and a dog she refuses to name. She has no use for the white lies that smooth social intercourse, and she can see straight to the core of any problem. Anna, an elderly children's book illustrator, appears to be Katri's opposite: a respected member of the village, if an aloof one. Anna lives in a large empty house, venturing out in the spring to paint exquisitely detailed forest scenes. But Anna has something Katri wants, and to get it Katri will take control of Anna's life and livelihood. By the time spring arrives, the two women are caught in a conflict of ideals that threatens to strip them of their most cherished illusions.
About the Author
Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was born in Helsinki and spent much of her life in Finland. She is the author of the Moomin books, including "Comet in Moominland" and "Finn Family Moomintroll". Born into an artistic family--her father was a sculptor and her mother was a graphic designer and illustrator--Jansson studied at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, and L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In addition to her Moomin books, she also wrote several novels, drew comic strips and worked as a painter and illustrator. In 1966, she was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for her body of work. Jansson had a studio in Helsinki but spent most of her time at her home on a small island called Klovharu.
Tove Jansson (1914--2001) was a Finnish novelist, painter, illustrator, and comic-strip author. She is best known as the creator of the Moomin children's stories, which have been published in thirty-five languages and adapted for theater, opera, film, radio, and television. She received the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1966, the Prize of the Swedish Academy in 1972, and the Pro Finlandia medal in 1976. "The Summer Book "is one of ten novels she wrote for adults.
Kathryn Davis has received the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is the author of many novels, including "Labrador,"" The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf,"" Hell,"" The Walking Tour,"" The Thin Place,"" "and "Versailles. "In 2006 she received the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. She teaches at Washington University in St. Louis and lives in Vermont.
Thomas Teal is the translator many books, including "Sun City" by Tove Jansson and "Peasants and Masters" by Theodor Kallifatides.
ALI SMITH has written six works of fiction including "Hotel World", which was shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and won the Encore Award and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award. Born in Inverness, Scotland, she now lives in Cambridge, England.
“A perfectly constructed book about truth and deceit, and deceiving through truth, it’s obvious why this book won the Best Translated Book Award in 2011. And it’s the perfect accompaniment to reading all of Jansson’s Moomin books.” —Publishers Weekly
" Her description is unhurried, accurate and vivid, an artist's vision... The sentences are beautiful in structure, movement and cadence. They have inevitable rightness. And this is a translation! Thomas Teal deserves to have his name on the title page with Jansson's: he has worked the true translator's miracle....the most beautiful and satisfying novel I have read this year. " —Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian
"...a dark companion to her glowing The Summer Book. Here the setting is winter, and the almost Highsmithian subject concerns a woman who inveigles herself in the life of a famous, and rich, writer. Jansson's writing is, as always, understated yet acute and thrilling." — Los Angeles Times
"...Jansson crafts an unsentimental – often mischievous – novel of ideas that asks whether it is better to be kind than to be truthful, especially for an artist. Ali Smith’s excellent introduction expresses shock and delight that there is still fiction by Jansson untranslated into English. After reading this gem, who could disagree?" —Financial Times
"I loved this book...understated yet exciting, and with a tension that keeps you reading. I felt transported to that remote region of Sweden and when I finished it I read it all over again. The characters still haunt me." — Ruth Rendell
"Tove Janssen is a great, engaging talent -- a serious, complex, occasionally macabre novelist as well as a major and versatile painter who has worked for fifty years in the artistic mainstream. In Scandinavia, she is regarded as a treasure. As we come better to understand her achievement, we honor her likewise" — The HornBook
"...as this narrative ticks forward, it becomes evident that a book of almost inscrutable intricacy is being built from so many simple, separate components gradually enmeshing. "
--Theodore McDermott, The Believer