War, love, and family trauma from one of Finland’s top-tier short story authors.
Author: Harry Salmenniemi
Finnish original: Uhrisyndrooma ja muita novelleja
Publisher: Siltala Publishing, 2020
Genre: literary fiction
Number of pages: 220 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, English sample, Italian sample
In Harry Salmenniemi’s third story collection, Victim Syndrome, writing is revealed as a site of war and conflict, but also as an object of yearning love.
The subjects of the stories are as multifarious, strange, and striking as Salmenniemi’s work always is. In the story “We’re Fighting for the Children”, a civil war breaks out between two retail chains in a mountain village in Italy. When a baby is born on the front lines, the dutiful leaders of the battle decide to take care of it.
The story “Family Films” makes sharp-eyed observations on families and life in brusquely drawn, not entirely serious vignettes. The inventiveness of the stories in Victim Syndrome are proof that there is nothing a short story can’t do. In between Salmenniemi’s expansive narratives, small fragments, and essay-like texts, a tense landscape emerges and gazes out at the reader as enigmatic as a newborn.
Harry Salmenniemi was the only writer named of the twelve people to follow in 2020 by Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest newspaper.
“Harry Salmenniemi’s unfathomable novels are the best there is today. […] I can’t say if Salmenniemi is dead serious or convulsed with laughter. I assume both. […] The enjoyment of the narration lies in the movement of awakening images, their speed and boundlessness.”
– Helsingin Sanomat newspaper
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