Title: The Antarctica of Love
Author: Sara Stridsberg (translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner)
Publisher: MacLehose Press
Length: 272 pages
Synopsis: Inni is a rebellious teenager, a volatile young woman, a drug user, a sex worker, an unstable mother… she loves her life on the margins, but it is a life that is full, complex, filled with different shades of dark and light. Until it is brutally ended one summer’s day, on a lake shore at the heart of a distant, rain-washed forest. But Inni’s story doesn’t end with her murder. We sit with her as she watches her children, parents and friends living on in the world without her, hoping, as time passes, that they will still remember her.
I read the synopsis of The Antarctica of Love and just thought it sounded so interesting and intriguing, so I was very lucky when MacLehose Press sent me an early copy.
The Antarctica of Love is beautifully written. I really mean it. It’s gorgeous. It’s so beautifully written that it almost feels ethereal even though it deals with such a horrible subject matter. There were points on this book that the writing is so beautiful and Sara Stridsberg took the novel to places I didn’t expect it to go, that it made me cry.
The novel begins with Inni being murdered and it is so impactful. It is absolutely brutal at times, but Sara has some struck the perfect balance between the hard hitting acts of violence committed against Inni, and the tangible vulnerability of human connection. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that is so full of tenderness yet packs a real punch. It’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
You can’t help but feel for Inni, as you learn about how life and how it lead to the point of her murder. And I loved Sara’s choice to make the reader experience Inni looking back on her life after her depth and then to see all other characters she’d left behind. It was unlike anything I’ve ever read before, as was this book.
It amazes me how Sara has packed so much depth in the story, in the characters and their connections. It’s one of my favourite things about this exquisite novel. There is so much to unpack. It deals with loss, death, addiction, grief and love.
There is such a sense of sadness and heartbreak about this novel but it’s never overwhelming as it’s also full of love. And Sara’s writing elevates the book to even higher heights. It’s the kind of book you tell your friends about at work because you can’t stop thinking about it and you want them to read it too. It’s that good.
It has also been beautifully translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner.
I was wonderfully surprised at how much I loved The Antarctica of Love. There is no doubt it’s ine of my favourite reads of the year. I hope it’ll be nominated for the international Booker prize next year as it fully deserves to be. It’s book I won’t forget for a long time and I don’t think you will either.
Thank you so much to Katya and MacLehose Press for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out September 30th.
Until the next review