This is a masterpiece!
It’s when Solvej Balle’s third novel in the series about Tara Selter is published in Norwegian these days in Trude Marstein’s wonderful translation.
In total, Balle has planned a seven-volume work – for the first three she received the Northern Council Literature Prize last year.
Although I “only” gave the first book a roll of the dice, after reading the sequel, I no longer had any doubts:
This is a masterpiece.
Stunning and very attractive original work.
Read VG’s review of the first book here!
The basic idea behind “On the Calculation of Space” is taken from a Hollywood movie:
French bookseller Tara Selter wakes up every day on the new November 18th. She’s trapped by time – and knows it – unlike anyone else, the day repeats in an eternal loop.
If that sounds corny, relax.
Balle does not write plot-driven literature, but rather uses the particular premise to ponder a number of existential and philosophical questions. What is time, solitude and existence?
Pay attention – if you haven’t read the first two books, it might be a good idea not to read any more now!
Readers who have already tackled “On the Calculation of Space Capture” will remember that at the end of the second book, a new person trapped in time appears.
The third volume is about how this discovery changes Tara’s life.
Now she is no longer alone, she can share her thoughts and reflections with Norwegian Henry Dale.
Opens up for the first time to real conversations and discussions with another person who has had similar experiences to herself.
The absurd premise of Balle’s series of novels places the reader in a certain sense even outside of time, in an almost dreamlike state that opens up, subverts, and enchants the world.
I sensed some monotony in passages from the first and second volumes. Probably not so strange when the main character has to go through the same day for the umpteenth time. In the third volume it breaks some slack, yeah, towards the end of the book it turns into something that starts to look like a plot.
The critique of civilization so far only hinted at appears more clearly.
Tara previously described herself as a monster when she eats and consumes the world’s resources without being replaced when the day is reset. In discussions with Henry Dale, the idea that the West stands on the edge of a cliff is developed.
The similarities are drawn to Tara’s great passion: the Roman Empire. As Henry points out: “Dealing with the Romans was just a natural way of dealing with the plain fact that we were about to say goodbye to the Western world. Goodbye, Auf Wiederschen, Chairman. Goodbye. Bona Sera, Aftenland.”
With the first three volumes of this highly original novel, Solvej Balle has written a great European novel.
We still have a lot to look forward to.
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