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When I Forgot
     

When I Forgot

3.5 4
by Elina Hirvonen, Douglas Robinson (Translator)
 

When I Forgot is an astonishingly assured and compelling debut novel about the love siblings have for each other, the past they share, and the painful memories that shape their lives forever.
An astonishingly assured and compelling debut, When I Forgot explores the relationship between a sister and her brother, the past that they share, and the painful memories

Overview

When I Forgot is an astonishingly assured and compelling debut novel about the love siblings have for each other, the past they share, and the painful memories that shape their lives forever.
An astonishingly assured and compelling debut, When I Forgot explores the relationship between a sister and her brother, the past that they share, and the painful memories that shape their lives forever. Anna is on her way to the hospital where her brother has been institutionalized when she falters, and in that pause her world splinters in a blazing display of memory and madness, of childhood security treasured and shattered, and of families blighted by psychological trauma—her brother's and that of her boyfriend's father, a Vietnam vet. September 11 serves as a backdrop for the story, and the Finnish perspective on America and its politics is as uncomfortable as it is compelling. In Elina Hirvonen's skillful hands, the grimness is illuminated by firecracker insight and surprising beauty. And, above all, there is hope.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Potent, fragile and tender, When I Forgot is really the story of ‘When I Remembered,’ of a woman summoning the courage to unlock her memories and share them, and feeling the relief of exhaling breath held too long.”
Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review (cover)

Recommended Reading: The story of two young people, one Finnish and one American, each with their own tragic pasts, and their journey together to understanding.—San Francisco Chronicle

"Excellent and evocative...What is most remarkable about this novel, aside from its honest, simple prose and compelling storyline (it's difficult to stop reading), is that Hirvonen maintains a real sense of optimism throughout this meditation on love and war."—Katja Pantzar, The Globe and Mail

"When I Forgot is tightly structured and coolly narrated, with a dispassionate voice that makes its extremes of emotion that much more affecting." —Alison Hallett, Portland Mercury

"The problem with Elina Hirvonen’s When I Forgot is finding a place to stop. The narrative of this slender, lightning-fast Finnish novel, the most internationally successful debut novel in Finnish history, propels you along without the hint of a stopping point, one startling, violent or surprising scene feeding directly into another, or story within story unfolding accordion-style, part now, part later, with fragments of other stories unraveling in between."—Booklist's Book Group Buzz

"[Hirvonen] captures this struggle and the role of memory in our lives with amazing grace and a crispness, or maybe an electrical current, that jumps off the page...the story is an amazingly quick and powerful read; it pulls you forward and flows almost naturally. This comes from the way Hirvonen seems to have so perfectly captured the way our memories and thoughts flow...It is an example of humane literature; language that both captures something about what it means to be human while at the same time illustrating the incredible creativity and skill that writers can bring to that quitesential human habit: the story." —Kevin Holtsberry, Collected Miscellany

A story told in sparse language and delicate sentence fragments, set amid the snow-spattered cafes and apartments of Helsinki, When I Forgot shares its philosophical commentary while never neglecting its individual characters or its unique setting.—Synchronized Chaos

"An amazing, intense, lyrical account of two parallel lives and their wonderful love affair. The swift clarity of the prose, the beauty of the images, and the wise observations make this novella a fantastic pleasure."—Josip Novakovich, author of April Fool's Day

"Terribly sad but also absolutely beautiful." —NOW Magazine

Liesl Schillinger
In Mrs. Dalloway…Woolf embarked on a great experiment, showing how a lifetime may be contained and revealed in small, seemingly inconsequential details. Hirvonen repeats this experiment, differently yet deftly, and Douglas Robinson's translation is so smooth that, but for the foreign names, one could forget the book was not originally written in English…Potent, fragile and tender, When I Forgot is really the story of "When I Remembered," of a woman summoning the courage to unlock her memories and share them, and feeling the relief of exhaling a breath held too long.
—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780980243659
Publisher:
Tin House Books
Publication date:
05/05/2009
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
1,365,535
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

When I Forgot is Elina Hirvonen's first novel. Hirvonen is a celebrity in Finland, where she has previously been a TV presenter and chat show host. She has just finished her first documentary, which focuses on African migration to Europe. She is a passionate traveler and has journeyed independently through thirty different countries.

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When I Forgot 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DJLunchlady91404 More than 1 year ago
When I forgot is a story about a young journalist living around the time of the world trade center attacks. Throughout the story she retells events of her past involving her family and her mentally ill brother while also reaching out to her professor Ian and allowing him to open up and share the hard truth about his past involving his father. I found myself drawn to this book from the first page all the way to the last page and once I started reading it I was unable to put it down. I feel that Elina Hirvonen did an amazing job telling Anna's story. It was a little bit confusing trying to differentiate between Ian's life and Anna's life but after the first few chapters it became easier. I feel that even with the sadness that the story revolves around Elina did a good job of keeping the book from getting too depressing. I felt it was a very good book and I will be sure to recommend it to all my friends.