cover image A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding

A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding

Amanda Svensson, trans. from the Swedish by Nichola Smalley. Scribe, $20 trade paper (544p) ISBN 978-1-957363-11-0

Chaos and the search for order duel in Svensson’s intelligent debut. At 25, the Izaksson triplets—Sebastian, Matilda, and Clara—learn from their mother that one of them might have been switched in the hospital after their birth, but they don’t know which. The family dynamic is already uneasy, each sibling having gone their separate way after the death of Sebastian’s girlfriend, Violetta, a year earlier. Sebastian, a neuroscientist, doesn’t know why he’s been recruited by the shadowy London Institute of Cognitive Science. Matilda lives in Berlin with her boyfriend, Billy, and his synesthete daughter. Meanwhile, Clara has gone to Easter Island to interview an environmentalist who believes the world is about to end. Everything that happens may have meaning, or may not (at one point, Sebastian wonders if people are nothing but “pawns in a strange game of indeterminate purpose and an as yet unclear ending”). As the triplets attempt to solve the mystery at the heart of their family, Svensson unpacks the details of Violetta’s death and its implications. Even if the lack of resolution is intentional, the length starts to feel wearing. Still, wacky details at Sebastian’s lab—a monkey with a moral compass, a patient who can only see in two dimensions—and the provocative intrigue keep this afloat. It’s fun if exhausting. (Sept.)