Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kjell Westö: Lang (A Finnish crime novel)

Well, not actually a crime novel per se, more like a mainstream novel with a crime in its center. Kjell Westö's (from the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland) Lang (2002) is a tale of a celebrity writer and talk-show host who gets dragged down into a strange ménage à trois with a young woman, who has a 6-year old boy, and the son's father, a young man with a criminal bent. Seems like the woman and her former lover are still engaged in a sadomasochistic relationship that ends up in a tragic killing.

Westö tackles many issues, ranging from the verbal abuse that the talk-show host engages upon his interviewees to the larger social abuse the rich engage upon the poor, and the society of the spectacle.  This is all quite interesting and the book has a pretty good narrative drive, but Westö's style is overwritten. This could've benefited of being 40-50 pages shorter, though the last 50 pages were very good.

I don't know if this is translated in English (or any other language the readers of this blog master), but it might work in other languages, as it's not a typically Finnish novel. The themes are pretty global and the narrative is full of urbanisms.

Edit: my friend Tapani Bagge says this novel has been translated in English, he remembers seeing a review of it in CrimeTime magazine. Anyone? 

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