The Summer Book

By Tove Jansson; Thomas Teal (Translator); Kathryn Davis (Introduction by)
(New York Review of Books, Paperback, 9781590172681, 170pp.)

Publication Date: May 20, 2008

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Description
In "The Summer Book" Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer--its sunlight and storms--into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia's grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tends to her grandmother with the care of a new parent. Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship, build boats from bark, create a miniature Venice, write a fanciful study of local bugs. They discuss things that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God and of love. "On an island," thinks the grandmother, "everything is complete." In "The Summer Book," Jansson creates her own complete world, full of the varied joys and sorrows of life.
Tove Jansson, whose Moomintroll comic strip and books brought her international acclaim, lived for much of her life on an island like the one described in "The Summer Book," and the work can be enjoyed as her closely observed journal of the sounds, sights, and feel of a summer spent in intimate contact with the natural world.
"The Summer Book" is translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal.



About the Author
Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was born in Helsinki and spent much of her life in Finland. She is the author of the Moomin books, including "Comet in Moominland" and "Finn Family Moomintroll". Born into an artistic family--her father was a sculptor and her mother was a graphic designer and illustrator--Jansson studied at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, and L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In addition to her Moomin books, she also wrote several novels, drew comic strips and worked as a painter and illustrator. In 1966, she was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for her body of work. Jansson had a studio in Helsinki but spent most of her time at her home on a small island called Klovharu.

Tove Jansson (1914--2001) was a Finnish novelist, painter, illustrator, and comic-strip author. She is best known as the creator of the Moomin children's stories, which have been published in thirty-five languages and adapted for theater, opera, film, radio, and television. She received the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1966, the Prize of the Swedish Academy in 1972, and the Pro Finlandia medal in 1976. "The Summer Book "is one of ten novels she wrote for adults.
Kathryn Davis has received the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is the author of many novels, including "Labrador,"" The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf,"" Hell,"" The Walking Tour,"" The Thin Place,"" "and "Versailles. "In 2006 she received the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. She teaches at Washington University in St. Louis and lives in Vermont.
Thomas Teal is the translator many books, including "Sun City" by Tove Jansson and "Peasants and Masters" by Theodor Kallifatides.

Davis has received a Kafka Prize, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.


NPR
Monday, Mar 21, 2011

Scandinavian lit is getting a bad reputation. The days of fairy tales are over and a new wave of crime fiction has painted a grim picture of the Nordic countries. Author Heidi Durrow offers three books to take you inside the real Nordic world, where ordinary characters live and love in extraordinary ways. More at NPR.org

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