by Kjell Westo

“I asked you to write a story about love, not a story about crime!” he yelled, and I answered, “I’m sorry, but in my mind they’ve become inseparable.”  See more details below


“I asked you to write a story about love, not a story about crime!” he yelled, and I answered, “I’m sorry, but in my mind they’ve become inseparable.”

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nordic alienation and reflection meet a critique of American cultural dominance in this suspenseful literary hybrid. Finnish Westo's first novel to be translated into English follows the dramatic midlife turns of Christian Lang, a sometime Helsinki writer whose pseudointellectual talk show boosted him to local fame. Lang's problem is not so much a failed marriage and looming cancellation as that he's fallen out of step with his culture, which is entering capitalist hyperspace and expressing itself through reality TV and Game Boys. Lang delivers a defense of empathy (as opposed to me-firstism) in his final show, but an obsessive love affair with a beautiful, independent and secretive young mother reveals itself as an entanglement with dark and strange passions, all of which lead to unanswerable questions of innocence and intent. Westo's most remarkable talent is for describing the existential vertigo that leads his bookish characters to alarming acts. (Feb. 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The author of several highly praised novels and a Helsinki talk-show host, Christian Lang has led a charmed life. Everything comes easily to him until the night he calls his lifelong friend, Konni, in need of a shovel. Konni, who has always lived in Lang's shadow, re-creates the events leading up to this fateful night, beginning with Lang's romance with Sarita. Lang's descent begins as his relationship with Sarita forces him to rethink his earlier relationships with his sister and son. He then finds that Sarita is still involved with her ex-husband, whose behavior becomes more aggressive, but he fails to end the relationship; the impending crisis is evident. Konni constructs the story from Lang's recollections, trying to piece together the aftermath, but events finally allow him to step out on his own. Westo, one of Finland's leading Swedish-language writers, creates a convincingly dark Helsinki landscape. This suspenseful novel is also a love story, but mostly it is a well-crafted examination of a man whose refusal to open himself up to relationships has tragic consequences. Recommended for larger collections.-Joshua Cohen, Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From Finland, a taut and elegant thriller about love, obsession and murder. Two decent people are caught in a trap the jaws of which are closing so slowly that a detached observer might think escape is possible. But nobody here is detached. Human triangles are inherently explosive, and Lang, the central figure, finds this one particularly volatile. Charming and erudite, Lang is the host of a long-running TV talk show called The Blue Hour. It has nothing to do with salacious humor; think Charlie Rose instead. Likable though Lang is to his audience and even his friends, he doesn't much like himself. He frets and feels purposeless and used up. Then he meets Sarita, falls overwhelmingly in love and almost at once experiences a heady, totally unexpected emotional rebirth. Sarita is lovely, sexy and, more importantly, sympathetic to Lang. She understands and can cope with the vagaries of a highly complex personality. Naturally, Lang is bewitched. Sarita, too, though not with Lang but with Marko, her estranged husband. The two have known each other since they were very young. Marko is both the father of Sarita's child and the fateful cloud that hangs over her head. He's unstable, often vicious, and certainly dangerous, a demonic presence she's never been able to exorcise. A perceptive friend warns Lang that he's out of his depth and advises him to cut and run, to "save your own skin. Those two belong together, don't you understand?" Lang does understand, but he can't run, even to save his own skin. Inevitably, the jaws of the trap snap violently shut. Smoothly and unobtrusively translated, this debut grabs, holds, then plunges you into a world pervaded by a kind of mundane grimness, dark in itsown signature way: Nordic noir.

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Product Details

Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.56(d)

Meet the Author

Kjell Westö was born in 1961 in Finland. Since his literary debut in 1986 he has published three collections of poetry, two books of short stories, and three novels. He lives in Finland.

Ebba Segerberg teaches English at Washington University. She has translated several crime novels into English

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