cover image Benny & Shrimp

Benny & Shrimp

Katarina Mazetti, , trans. from the Swedish by Sarah Death. . Penguin, $14 (209pp) ISBN 978-0-14-311599-1

Mazetti's debut, a bestseller in her native Sweden, centers on two lonely, 30-something singles living in rural Sweden as they attempt to overcome the inner obstacles keeping them apart. The dialogue-heavy story is told in breezy, alternating first-person accounts that paint a vivid portrait of life in northern Sweden. Desiree, better known as Shrimp, is a quiet librarian with an intellectual streak dealing with the recent death of her husband. Benny is a dairy farmer too busy tending the family farmland to realize his loneliness. The two have a serendipitous first encounter at the graveyard and find an instant, irresistible connection between them. Early chapters are charged with their passionate, intense affair, but the story fizzles as the two loners clash over their stubborn idiosyncrasies. Though the writing is charming and at times poetic, the plot becomes tedious and the characters predictable. Short though slow, the novel should hold appeal for fans of quirky women's fiction and Swedish novels like Astrid and Veronika . (Aug.)