Translated by Tess Lewis.
A quirky tale full of lovable eccentric characters and a couple of very odd animals, who actually make this book for me. The most obvious one is the okapi, which is depicted on the cover and is also a metaphor for death in the dreams of a grandmother. The fear of the omen hangs over everyone throughout the book even though everyone pretends that they are not superstitious.
The story is set in a German village and is narrated by a girl, the granddaughter, in three time periods, starting from when she is ten years old. At first the tale is jumpy and a little odd, with the unusual characters and their strange sayings and philosophies. So much so that it may have ended up being a fairy tale or book touching on the magical realism genre. But it settles down as the child grows up, gets a job and falls for a Buddhist monk who lives mainly in Japan. The best character is the deerhound named Alaska who was prescribed to the narrator's father as method to externalise his pain. He isn't an ordinary dog, either.
This is a book about love, death, community and acceptance, but mostly it's about perception. Sometimes moving away from what you are looking at enables you to see it more clearly. Thoughtful, witty and highly original, the most hopeful book of the year.
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on 22 July 2021.
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.
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