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Book review: Michael Ondaatje hides his cards well

Many novels, also good, contains one sentence that shows how they want to be read. A key to the paradise, between the covers, a tuning fork for the right key. Then it can sound like this: ”’do not Disclose more than is necessary, Nathaniel’, he used to say, ’never reveal more than necessary.’”

There is nothing wrong if the books contain user manuals. Very good the art of doing it. And either way, the text is more than such a flare of self-consciousness, this finger as discreetly pointing towards the chest (where it now sits) and explains: ”this is where you are.”

in Michael Ondaatjes new novel, ”Lyktsken”, which is now published in Andreas Vesterlunds translation. First, a few words about the latter. Vesterlunds Swedish is a precision instrument. Smooth syntax, good sense of rhythm, the right word. In addition the ear. One encounters rarely in translations where there is something that interferes with. Not outright errors, they occur even in the best acronym. But an unnecessary repetition, a clumsy choice of words, fubbel with prepositions.

Non of Vesterlund. He is a couple of generations younger than mirakelmakarna among the now living translators who joke away our literature since 50 years back and who should not be named for fear that someone involuntarily forgotten: Anders Bodegård, Lena E. Heyman, Inger Johansson, Jan Stolpe, Ulrika Wallenström...

given all Vesterlund is in a position to, together with younger språkberikare Erik Andersson, Maria Björkman, Niclas Nilsson, Jan Henrik Swahn and Linda Östergaard, can prose translated during the next few decades count on our continued glory.

the ideals of Ondaatje. Not of the dazzling variety – the one where the bling-bling-the literature with too much suntan oil and the sequins do not want to reflect but be admired. But neither its supposed opposite, the dimmed weigh-every-word-on-wave variation, whose miserly pride often enough looking for imagining that the gold leaf has weight.

Ondaatje is the shine subdued, vaguely dangerous and erotic. The book's English title gives the best signalementet. ”Warlight” describes the nedsläckta London during the Blitz. It is a text that glitters and sparkles in the same way as sobelpäls – elusive and dull, through the insinuations and tight but sliding stuff.

No wonder that the book portrays events in the past that are concealed. Or agentliv. The narrator is fourteen when the start – stop. The second world war is finally past. Fixed the rivalry continues, now according to the blurred framework. The forces for good shows rarely good enough, the dubious mitigating feature.

A really good novel is no solitaire game where everything must go out. It contains blemishes, misty places, productive uncleanness,

the end of the year. Abruptly. Nathaniel and his sister Rachel are left in the hands of the skumraskfigurer. The parents should to Singapore, which is a diversion. While returning to the father never to the document. But the mother remains its enigmatic centre, the gap in the children's history and emotional life around which everything revolves. It takes Nathaniel many years to understand that she does not leave them of negligence, but of consideration. Only so can the former spy protect them from the dangers of the past.

Ondaatje draws slowly and gorgeously tighten the screw. Dået is not obsolete, but persists in the present in a way that makes people sometimes free, sometimes shackled. While the sister says the hate the mother, matures Nathaniel in the company of her elusive friends. They smuggle greyhundar on musselbåtar, drinking, and enjoying themselves, but does also never mentioned acts of heroism to the intelligence community.

From the darkness emerges a Efterkrigslondon not received the order itself, characterized by equal parts threat and hope. Nathaniel misbehaving school. He spends the nights on the river Thames or with Agnes in the dark homes that her brother is trying to sell. He is being pursued by figures taken from a film noir, and to learn to live independently.

understood what the author knows: ”A personal story is just one among many, and perhaps not the most important. The self is not the main thing.” But in the book's second half clears the eye and the depicted persons appear in a new light. When Nathaniel is reunited with the mother, who isolated themselves in the country, life a both clearer and obevekligare character. He begins working for the secret service, add the piece to the puzzle and live retroactively up to the ”empathetic curiosity”, which is praised. On the last pages can the past catch up and he finally realizes that no act is so innocent that it lacks consequences.

Many novels, also good, contains one sentence that shows how they want to be read. Then it can sound like this: ”never Reveal more than necessary.” Really good novels leaves something unclear. This one of them? Ondaatje hide their cards with admirable elegance, the firm reveals the fact everything. But a really good novel is no solitaire game where everything must go out. It contains blemishes, misty places, productive of impurity. When a reading is still not finished with it.

It feels kymigt to say it, but despite the perfect prose and the political precipices processed feel, at least, this reader is finished with the ”Lyktsken”.

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