In the opening pages of Amatka, Karin Tidbeck (Jagannath) introduces readers to Brilars' Vanja Essre Two, traveling by train to conduct research in the colony of Amatka. Vanja notes the slippery, scratchy fabric of the train's benches, the washbasin and the table in the car, and recognizes each item's careful labeling. "Suitcase," she whispers to her luggage, to maintain its shape.

As Vanja begins her research in Amatka, this strange, slightly eerie colony comes to life. With sparse language, Tidbeck describes objects that dissolve into a potent paste when not well labeled, a lake that spontaneously freezes and unfreezes with a thundering each night, and the tight controls that the Committee keeps over Amatka's colonists. This language hints at a slowly building sense of dread within the colony. In a world in which words have the power to shape (and therefore destroy) anything that takes a physical shape, be it pencil or building, "a citizen who doesn't guard their words could destroy their commune."

Amatka asks many questions of its readers, chief among them: What does it mean to exist? What do we value most when we know nothing may be permanent? What sacrifices do we make for the greater good, and what individual freedoms must we refuse to yield? Tidbeck's slim but brilliant novel brings to life a world at once familiar and entirely foreign, packed with existential questions that linger long beyond the last page--and written without a single word out of place. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Powered by: Xtenit