Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Five elegant and moody fantasies

Sofia Samatar is the author of the World Fantasy Award-winning novel A Stranger in Olondria and its sequel, The Winged Histories. One of her five favorite "intensely strange, beautifully written, and transportive fantasies," as shared at
Tainaron: Mail from Another City by Leena Krohn, translated by Hildi Hawkins
“How could I forget the spring when we walked in the University’s botanical gardens; for there is such a park here in Tainaron, too, large and carefully tended. If you saw it you would be astonished, for it contains many plants that no one at home knows; even a species that flowers underground.”
I first read Leena Krohn’s bright, melancholy novella in the anthology The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer. It’s also available as part of the landmark collection of Krohn’s work published by Cheeky Frawg. It feels strange to describe a work as both “bright” and “melancholy,” but this is the mood produced by Krohn’s fantasy, in which an unnamed human narrator writes letters from a country of giant insects. These insects are sophisticated, sensitive, and rapacious; they ride trams, dine in cafés, feed their children on the corpses of their ancestors, and rub themselves against flowers in broad daylight. Krohn’s is a colorful, anarchic landscape: fresh as spring, sad as autumn, and unified by the lonely voice of the letter-writer, a flâneur of the anthills.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue