The Explorer & Other Stories

Jyrki Vainonen, trans. from the Finnish by Juha Tupasela, Anna Volmari, and Hildi Hawkins. Cheeky Frawg (www.cheekyfrawg.com), $9.99 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-0-9857904-5-5
Vainonen, an award winner in his native Finland, debuts in English with seven selections from three of his previous collections, introduced by Finnish fantasy powerhouse Johanna Sinisalo. Opening with the absurd—a husband vanishes on an ill-fated expedition into his unfaithful wife’s thigh in “The Explorer”—the book then delves into questions of identity (“Blueberries”) and transformation (“The Aquarium”). Sex is mutable (“The Pearl”) and comforting truths are revealed to be false, while faint suspicions prove terribly true (“The Refrigerator”). The author shows an easy comfort with the odd and disturbing, and sympathy even with his less sympathetic protagonists. The translators have done a masterful job of presenting his work with clarity. The one shortcoming of the collection is its brevity; at a scant hundred pages it seems too short to function as a proper introduction to the author. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/2013
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