Friday, April 20, 2012

March's Apple-a-Month pick: New Finnish Grammar

It's taken us a while to get around to revealing to the wider world our Apple-a-Month selection for March, but we assure you it's no reflection on the strength of this fine novel by Diego Marani (translated by Judith Landry). If anything, the opposite is the case, this being one of the more memorable books I've read in months, one that continues to haunt me. Here's the praise I sung to our subscribers:
I've been a bookseller long enough to know that this book is going to be a tough sell. As memorable and heartbreaking a novel as any I've read in recent memory, New Finnish Grammar is saddled with both a dry title and unassuming packaging. It's unlikely that either of these things are going to grab a hold of you the way the extraordinary story hidden inside of this book will; you'd be forgiven for passing the book by, as I did for months. (Finland? Grammar? I'll stick with Fifty Shades of Gray, thanks.) But, when I finally gave in to the nagging voice that insists I read a certain book, I found myself caught up in a heartbreaking story about a man with no memory, no language and no homeland. Narrated in an earnest, straightforward voice, New Finnish Grammar manages nonetheless to speak to profound questions of identity and meaning, all while remaining as compelling as The English Patient.
At the time we mailed New Finnish Grammar, we weren't aware that it, along with Magdalena Tulli's In Red, our November selection, would be included among the finalists of the Best Translated Book Award. We're crossing our fingers that either of these books--or both!--will take home the prize.

And, for our subscribers, April's book will come with a special treat, so keep an eye on your mailboxes in the coming week. We think you'll be pleased by the surprise.

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