I hate when I ask myself the question “Who does this remind me of?” and my brain goes right to another person who shares various demographic features with the current writer? Oh, so you’re saying EVERY writer from Japan reminds you of Murakami? Why’s that! No reason I swear!
But hear I am fine with it. This is like a Magda Szabo novel that takes place is a Milan Kundera world. It’s a strange and bizarre world in a Polish town on the Czechia border where telephone lines gets crossed and if you’re carried on the Czech signal you pay more. It’s a world in which men you don’t like keep ending up dead, and despite not liking them, not respecting them, and kind of thinking they deserved their death for their mistreatment of animals, you still feel compelled to investigate their deaths and demand answers. Our narrator, Janina, is an aging woman living alone in the outskirts of Poland when she finds out from one neighbor that “Bigfoot is dead”. Bigfoot is a 50 year old hunter who has choked on a chicken bone, and she’s greatly alarmed that no one seems to care. She begins to investigate.
The bone is so dry and wonderful and Janina, who hates being called Janina, is a truly amazing narrator. I got lost a few times in her wanderings and musing, but was truly fascinated with her conversations with friends, and their obsessions with the poetry of William Blake, a constant go-to in English language fiction and film, but surprisingly fresh in translated literature. This translation also seemed to sparkle.