My Review (3 stars out of 5)
Iceland, 1920. Blacksmith and hermit Gunnar is unhappy when a lodger is foisted on him. Persuaded to allow the stranger to stay around for a while until the man’s injury heals, the visitor earns his keep by telling a story. But as the tale progresses, it seems the very telling of it will impact on the life of its listener forever. As well as looking after his lodger, Gunnar must deal with his own demons…
The opening pages of Storytellers caught my imagination and kept me reading. However, considering this is an award-winning novel with lots of five-star reviews, I was surprised to find the quality of the writing waned a little as the book progressed, and I found it increasingly difficult to enjoy. There is no mention of a translator, so I assume the author did the job himself. In any case, those old enemies of writers – the adverb and the exclamation mark – make regular appearances, interrupting the flow of the text. There’s also a slight clunkiness to the writing in places, with some sentences reading as if they’ve been subjected to Google Translate, rather than the pen of a skilled writer. I continued reading in the hope of discovering why the book is so popular. Though I enjoyed it on one level (and bearing in mind that I’m a big fan of Nordic and Scandi writing), this one left me wondering if I missed something.
It’s fair to say I’ve become a bit finicky about what I read, so maybe I just expected too much from Mr Larssen.
Bjørn Larssen is a Norse heathen made in Poland, but mostly located in a Dutch suburb, except for his heart which he lost in Iceland. Born in 1977, he self-published his first graphic novel at the age of seven in a limited edition of one, following this achievement several decades later with his first book containing multiple sentences and winning awards he didn’t design himself. His writing is described as ‘dark’ and ‘literary’, but he remains incapable of taking anything seriously for more than 60 seconds.
Bjørn has a degree in mathematics and has worked as a graphic designer, a model, a bartender, and a blacksmith (not all at the same time). His hobbies include sitting by open fires, dressing like an extra from Vikings, installing operating systems, and dreaming about living in a log cabin in the north of Iceland. He owns one (1) husband and is owned by one (1) neighbourhood cat.
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NB This post first appeared as part of the Blog Tour for Storytellers, via Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources.