Author: Jón Kalman Stefánsson –
Publisher: HarperAudio –
Genre: Fiction, People –
Overall rating: 4/5 –
Writing: 5/5 –
Duration: 7:48 (feels medium) –
Narrator: Ulf Bjorklund –
Narrator/performance: 4/5 –
Impressions: 4/5 –
Performance errors: 0/5 –
Complexity/reading level: 5/5 –
This book, released in 2021, has been widely recommended. Having read it, I understand the result – though the reasons for it are not what I expected.
The book is about the people of Iceland. There is not much more to it. Although it is artfully written, it also assaults the reader like an icy wind. Rarely have I experienced so many genuine yet contradicting emotional reactions while reading a novel. Jón Kalman Stefánsson is a very skillful writer. His metaphors and associations are modern, relatable. He reminds somewhat of XKCD comics, betraying layers upon layers of thought while not appearing overly attached to any of them, remaining distant, laid back.
I felt sure while listening that the narrator was immensely enjoying the book. I could hear why he did. Though it should also be noted that the book is not for beginner readers. It is highly realistic in certain sections – mostly in liminal situations. Where everything falls out of place, people fall out their convictions, attachments, their minds, clothes or dear life – that is where the storyteller pays attention to them. This technique makes the reader uncomfortable and attentive. This intrusion appears unnatural and yet it is the natural way of being. Are people even welcome on Iceland? Or is the life of a mysterious hermit the only wise move? I have visited Iceland once, I was cold and felt exposed. I believe that every word in “Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night” was written for a reason.
A book for adults and quite definitely not all of them.
The cover is simple, perhaps too simple. Reminds me of a cheap video game. The book is relatively short, however, so it does not matter that much.