Book Review: Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck 

When you step into something so familiar, like that memory of your childhood where every possible weird thing is true, you get this sense as you have escaped back and time has stopped moving on. It is like this late summer day when the sun is still up, and there is this soft golden light just for a moment before it’s gone. I felt like that when reading Jagannath. It was like stepping into my childhood through these familiar, bizarre stories. Maybe it is because so many of them have this folk story ring, stories I grew up with. Not to mention that familiar melancholia and acceptance that the world is what it is.

Yet, even when Tidbeck loans a lot of the tone and stories from Nordic and Finnish folklore, she puts her own spin on them, a weird, somewhat disturbing style. Bugs crawling on your skin, disappearing just like that, mental illness and suicides, torture and haunting places looping forever. But even that spin feels so familiar. It is like that shared story passed on in common blood. I’m not sure if any of this makes sense.

Tidbeck’s ascetic style is there. Yet, even when she uses words minimally, she draws you in, and you are there seeing the ground break and the created creature wail or giggle as they are watered. Haunting, disturbed, and melancholic. But unattached. I think that’s a cultural thing, and as a Finn, I can sense the emotions behind the plain words and stripped-down stories. Even when they are not shouted from the rooftops, love and fear are present. Such is the way. All said, I’m not yet sure what to think or how to feel about the book. I’m too lost in nostalgia. 

Thank you for reading, and have a bizarre day ❤

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