A poignantly humoristic novel about children, loss, and dumb blondes.
Author: Peter Sandström
Swedish original: Den stora blondinens sista sommar
Publisher: Schildts & Söderströms, 2021
Genre: literary fiction
Number of pages: 254 pp.
Reading material: Swedish original, Finnish translation, English sample, English synopsis
A man must bid farewell to his daughter, who is heading off to study in the Netherlands. His other child has already been abroad for years, investigating complex matters the man finds utterly incomprehensible.
At the same time, the man must clear out his deceased parents’ home. With stray cats and one rather likeable mouse for company, he strews a cheerful cacophony of belongings around the garden. Unexpected guests appear in the guise of old friends, the ones who call the man the Big Blonde. At night he falls asleep in the shed with his headlamp on.
At the heart of everything is a love story. It’s the early 1980s, and a young couple is attending university in the capital. The woman is Limone, and the man wants to spend his life with her.
Now Limone is distant, both emotionally and physically, and the man is left watering her plants and sifting through her possessions.
Peter Sandström is one of Finland’s most highly regarded Swedish-speaking authors. Known as a meticulous depicter of inner worlds and interpersonal relationships, he demonstrates a unique facility for capturing life’s light, happy, fleeting, and painful moments. Works by Sandström have won numerous literary prizes.
“Sandström’s novels and short stories are marked by a rare blend of boisterous tranquility and controlled lunacy. Everything is a little unpredictable, but nothing is what it seems.”
– Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper
“The ingredients Sandström puts to use are ultimately quite sticky. Unrequited love. Crushed dreams. Hard reality up against the tenderest of dreams. But the humor, self-deprecation, and absurdity pinpointed by his Kaurismäkiesque gaze allow Sandström to avoid even the most melodramatic varieties of flypaper.”
– Åbo underrättelser newspaper
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