cover image The Backpacker's Father

The Backpacker's Father

Gunnar Kopperud, , trans. from the Norwegian by Christopher Jamieson. . Bloomsbury, $19.95 (246pp) ISBN 978-0-7475-7770-6

At the start of this dour meditation on loss and culture clash by Norwegian author Kopperud (The Time of Light ), a European man named Francesco is searching for his missing daughter, Anya, in the Spice Islands when his ferry sinks. He and two documentary film makers, Helen and Kurt, have to swim ashore. Arrested by the local police, Francesco gains his freedom only by showing a photograph of himself standing with the island's leader. Political turmoil on the island involving conflict between Christians and Muslims threatens Helen and Kurt's attempts to make their TV documentary. The resolution to Francesco's search for Anya is sad in an unexpected way, while Francesco's fate, given his initial trump card of the photo with the island's leader, is perhaps too banal. Through luminous, honest prose, this depressing novel explores the hopelessness of the individual's fate in the wider world. (Aug.)