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Amatka

af Karin Tidbeck

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
3151663,751 (3.99)25
"A surreal and shockingly original debut novel set in a dystopian world shaped by language--literally. Vanja, a government worker, leaves her home city of Essre for the austere, wintry colony of Amatka on a research assignment. It takes some adjusting: people act differently in Amatka, and citizens are monitored for signs of subversion. Intending to stay just a short while, Vanja finds herself falling in love with her housemate, Nina, and decides to stick around. But when she stumbles on evidence of a growing threat to the colony and a cover-up by its administration, she begins an investigation that puts her at tremendous risk. In Karin Tidbeck's dystopic imagining, language has the power to shape reality. Unless objects, buildings, and the surrounding landscape are repeatedly named, and named properly, everything will fall apart. Trapped in the repressive colony, Vanja dreams of using language to break free, but her individualism may well threaten the very fabric of reality. Amatka is a beguiling and wholly original novel about freedom, love, and artistic creation by an idiosyncratic new voice"--… (mere)
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» Se også 25 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 16 (næste | vis alle)
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Vanja, a government worker, leaves her home city of Essre for the austere, wintry colony of Amatka on a research assignment. It takes some adjusting: people act differently in Amatka, and citizens are monitored for signs of subversion.

Intending to stay just a short while, Vanja finds herself falling in love with her housemate, Nina, and decides to stick around. But when she stumbles on evidence of a growing threat to the colony and a cover-up by its administration, she begins an investigation that puts her at tremendous risk.

In Karin Tidbeck's dystopic imagining, language has the power to shape reality. Unless objects, buildings, and the surrounding landscape are repeatedly named, and named properly, everything will fall apart. Trapped in the repressive colony, Vanja dreams of using language to break free, but her individualism may well threaten the very fabric of reality. Amatka is a beguiling and wholly original novel about freedom, love, and artistic creation by an idiosyncratic new voice.

THIS PURCHASE WAS INSPIRED BY THE WICKED, WICKED SF BOOK-BLOGGER, RACHEL CORDASCO. GO FOLLOW HER...WHY SHOULD I GO BROKE ALONE.

My Review
: I was inspired to write this review by the book's selection for a group read in Goodreads's Speculative Fiction in Translation group. The power of group reads is not to be treated lightly, authors...court them!

This is a weird, weird tale. Vanja, a government functionary in a brutally planned-to-a-fare-thee-well society, is sent to an outlying community in her colonial world of, um, psychically manipulable fungi. Sort of. I am floundering a bit for a way to present the world because Author Tidbeck uses the ever-useful in medias res technique to keep your defenses down. I've seen readers unable to decide whether it's all a fable, a magical-realist condemnation of the supposed grey horrors of socialism, or a real secondary world that the colonists have traveled to in some poorly-explained way. I myownself plump for the latter because "colonists" means little on today's quite crowded Earth.

Also it pays for readers to attend to, then recall, that the book mentions the first colonists discovered buildings "not for human standards" which is all but a slamming shut of that case for me. Other readers may find other ways to interpret the story, of course; I don't think it's giving enough credit to a story to say that one and only one interpretation uses The Right Lens.

It was, however, this point that convinced me this was not Earth whether past or future. The sun being missing, or *a* sun being missing, I took to mean that the planet's skies were totally overcast at all times. How else but via a thick atmosphere of some kind could a fungal habitat keep itself from desiccation? And that also went along with the colonists' arrival by non-chemically-propelled means, as their arrival isn't accompanied by any sense of A Journey.

Vanja's life in this peculiar totalitarian society was what kept my interest the most. Her inability and/or unwillingness to be integrated anywhere made her fascinating to me. Nina, her love interest, is another more-or-less misfit. It seems to me their attraction is peculiarly one-sided. How can anyone be attracted to the point of falling in love with Vanja? She's the embodiment of the society she lives in...stop naming her and she will simply slide back into fungal goop.

This presents my basic problem with the book: It stops. It slips back into the primordial goop of story-stuff. I'm sure the ambiguity of the ending is deliberate, is a choice and a declaration of stylistic intent. Looked at from that angle, it "works" inasmuch as I am unable to finish my relationship with this story...I keep needing to name it: "Amatka has ended...Amatka is over..." but note that I need to use "to be" verbs, there isn't even a gerund I can whomp up out of the story-stuff I'm given.

It's not like this is a fatal flaw. It is, however, a self-inflicted wound on what might have been a hugely more popular seller...and I get the impression, reading about a rigid settler society that never appears to question WHY this fungal paradise of infinite, if ephemeral, possibility even exists or what happens to those who...vanish, that this is entirely okay with the author. If not the reason she wrote the story in the first place.

I found myself chuckling at the knee-jerk responses to this story to the world of socialist economic austerity. In fact, it seems to me a bitterly outraged condemnation of the eternal horror of capitalism's consume-or-die ethos, its ephemeral products designed to fail to ensure they need to be replaced, the supposed inexhaustibility of the planet's resources tied to an endless need to rename...recycle, reform, reuse...the very substance of reality. Because it's gray and hopeless, it must be about Them, not us...well folks, your privilege is showing. The view from the bottom is very much in line with Author Tidbeck's retelling of it.

What I want is for hundreds of thousands of you to be overwhelmed by a sudden desire to make your inner world richer with a flattened, attenuated emotional landscape. By contrast, even the new plague-fighting restrictions impinging on our daily lives must seem positively vibrant with possibility.

All in all, a wonderful story to read, and then re-read, for its layered and beautifully textured use of, and celebration f the uses of, language. I have seldom read a self-translated work that was this exacting in its craft, so fully and unsparingly rendered as its own self. Many are the echoes of Solaris, for example, in the protean fungal goop; but never by word or deed do the characters echo the positions or words of Lem's ancestral work.

Bravo, Author Tidbeck. Well crafted on all counts, in all metrics. ( )
  richardderus | Jul 30, 2021 |
This one is a hard one to review without giving away certain discoverable plot twists except to say... what a surreal, surreal world.

I think it's a mild New Strange. Or perhaps it's a hardcore Magical Realism. Perhaps it's just a study in what it means to use imagination when surrounded by literalism. Maybe it's a whole society built on the necessity of crushing that imagination in all ways. Maybe it's a necessity. And maybe we're in bizarro commune land brushing its fingertips against 1984.

And maybe it's a love story. With mushrooms.

Like I said, it's hard to describe without giving it all away, and yet it's still a gentle dip into the whole stranger in a strange land, firmly rooted in banality until it's suddenly far, far from banal. :)

I enjoyed it. It made me scratch my head and just go with the strange. Mild strange, slowly getting very, very weird. What can I say? I likey. :)
( )
1 stem bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Amatka is a much better book when you don't think about it too much. Just say to yourself, "Damn, man. Language in this book literally shapes the world around it. Makes you think about what our use of language does to us!" Leave it at that. Don't try to understand the ending, don't think too hard about the complaints of the people resisting the government, don't look one second at the rationality of the government's response to said complaints, and whatever you do, DON'T TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHY THERE ARE PIPES, BECAUSE YOU'LL NEVER FIGURE IT OUT.

Maybe I'm dumb. Maybe I didn't take my time with the book. Or maybe it just needed to be a few pages longer to flesh a few more concepts out. Whatever the case, I'm not going to revisit this one. ( )
  bgramman | May 9, 2020 |
Very interesting and imaginative premise.
  dreamweaversunited | Apr 27, 2020 |
I picked this up because I was in the mood for a dystopian story, and this had been classified as such. There are indeed dystopian themes in the tale, but there is also a wealth of other themes and ideas coalescing in this cerebral, complex novel. The work resonates on both an intellectual and emotional level. And while you may find this book in the science fiction section, it has its feet firmly planted in the weird lit world. Highly recommend! ( )
  aickman | Apr 23, 2020 |
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Brilars' Vanja Esse Two, information assistant with the Essre Hygiene Specialists, was the only passenger on the auto train bound for Amatka.
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"A surreal and shockingly original debut novel set in a dystopian world shaped by language--literally. Vanja, a government worker, leaves her home city of Essre for the austere, wintry colony of Amatka on a research assignment. It takes some adjusting: people act differently in Amatka, and citizens are monitored for signs of subversion. Intending to stay just a short while, Vanja finds herself falling in love with her housemate, Nina, and decides to stick around. But when she stumbles on evidence of a growing threat to the colony and a cover-up by its administration, she begins an investigation that puts her at tremendous risk. In Karin Tidbeck's dystopic imagining, language has the power to shape reality. Unless objects, buildings, and the surrounding landscape are repeatedly named, and named properly, everything will fall apart. Trapped in the repressive colony, Vanja dreams of using language to break free, but her individualism may well threaten the very fabric of reality. Amatka is a beguiling and wholly original novel about freedom, love, and artistic creation by an idiosyncratic new voice"--

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