Recommended by all and sundry as their ‘Book of the Year’ or ‘Best summer read’, I found this slight novel rather hard going – not impossibly so, but I struggled to see what all the fuss was about. That said, it provides plenty to ponder on – a man with no memory is (mistakenly it turns out, as you are told early on) identified as a Finn and transported home where he relearns his (assumed) mother tongue. As World War II’s eastern front edges closer towards Finland, he realises that his hard earned new identity is false and joins the Finnish troops on the doomed Karelian front.
Publisher’s page: New Finnish Grammar – Diego Marani (translated by Judith Landry)
New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani – review by Nicholas Lezard published in The Guardian, Thursday 26 May 2011