How Earth Day Looks in Our Neck of the Woods


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Anatomy of a Night by Anna Kim and German Literature Month

Anna Kim is a South-Korean born Austrian who has won many prizes for her fiction.

Her Anatomy of a Night was a stellar read for me from the point of view of imagery. Her view of the fictional east Greenland coastal village of Amaraq could not have been more artistically depicted. I saw it, smelled it, felt it through to my every pore. I heard the silence, the cracking of ice, the lone barking of a sled dog. In my view, the setting was the most important character in the book.

I must confess I had difficulty keeping track of many of the characters--and weren't there a lot! I know Kim spent time in an east Greenland coastal town and it shows.

In some ways, I'm confounded by all the suicides. We don't really get to know any one character particularly well. They all come from life situations that are painful, sad, and depressing. And certainly the Danish policies over many, many decades has caused such a disruption in Inuit culture so as to cause these disconnected, empty lives deprived of meaning.

But I'm still not certain exactly what Kim most wanted her readers to carry away after reading the novel. I'm not at all sure of her purpose, her intent. I feel this must be my lack somehow.

As much as I was uplifted by the landscape imagery, I was downcast by the constant, unremitting acts of suicide. Without relief. But my emotions about this were not so intense that I could not appreciate the artistic aspects.

I am now very curious about the history of Greenland and would like to read much more about that.

8 comments:

  1. I have heard about the author, and the book seemed intensely intriguing; but now I'm not so sure. It might just be too bleak for me.

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    1. Oh, Priya,
      I hope I haven't ruined the book for you. Anna Kim has written two other novels, I believe. One of them intrigues me. I might try her again.

      Judith

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  2. Judith - Thanks for joining the readalong. I couldn't get close to the characters either. In fact, knowing the end before the beginning, so to speak, ensured that I wasn't prepared to invest emotionally in them. With two exceptions - the young boys ....

    I found the character map helpful although wish I'd known about it before the half way point.

    http://frischand.co/36/anatomy-of-a-night-map-of-characters

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    1. Lizzy,
      I think the imagery will always stand out for me--the non-stop, intense descriptions of this village--the icebergs, the fjord, the shops, the public showers, and the dwelling places of residents.
      Unfortunately, I didn't discover the map until I was past needing it. And for some reason, it didn't click for me that I should search for it on a computer rather than the Nook, which, when presented on a small screen, was useless.
      I'm glad I read it, despite that.
      Judith

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  3. I couldn't read the book because it sounds so sad, but the Greenland setting is interesting.

    Did you ever read Smilla's Sense of Snow by Danish writer, Peter Hoeg. Part of it is set in Greenland and has some history. That was my favorite part of the book.

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    1. Kathy,
      It's so interesting that you mentioned Smilla's Sense of Snow! My husband loved it years ago, back when we lived in Boston. We've got it packed up in one of his book boxes, but you know? I always intended to read it and didn't get to it. I think I'd like to!!! Will put it on my "Wannaread" list.
      Thanks for the reminder!
      Judith

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  4. well pleased I wasn't alone in the sense of this book ,like you I love to learn more about green land as never read much set there or about there ,all the best stu

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    1. Stu,
      It's funny. Greenland is not a popular setting for a novel, but I did read a good, fairly creepy one, which I reviewed in 2011. Darn. I can't seem to track it down at the moment.
      I've also read some wonderful travel memoirs of Greenland. If you're interested, I'll send you the titles and authors.

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