title: Jagannath: Stories
by: Karin Tidbeck
genre: fiction/short stories
source: my personal library
If you’ve never heard of Karin Tidbeck, let me introduce you: writing in both Swedish and in English, Karin Tidbeck’s work tends toward the speculative end of magical realism. And how magical! Borrowing from folk-lore and the fantastic, Tidbeck’s stories show a mastery of language and a quiet, precise restraint…each word, each punctuation mark WORKS in a way I don’t usually expect to see in a translation.
One thing that normally puts me off to science-fiction in general: many writers get so caught up in a concept or a plot line that the craft of writing gets lost. Karin Tidbeck DOES NOT have that problem. Her stories are wildly inventive but still very much grounded in the human experience, and the writing itself is a master class in economy of language, vivid description and vibrant, full characterization, no easy task in a short story.
Some of my favorite pieces include:
Reindeer Mountain: Sara and Cilla spend the summer at their Aunt Hedvig’s home on Reindeer Mountain, where they learn a bit more than they expected about their family history.
Beatrice: The opening story which follows what happens when an ordinary man finds himself in love with an airship.
Pyret: Presented as formal research, this story investigates the mythical Pyret, a shape-shifter that thrives on contact.
Who is Arvid Pekon?: Takes the notion of bureaucratic red tape and turns it on its head.