Jagannath:Stories by Karin Tidbeck
Cheeky Frawg Books, 2012
Jagannath is a collection of short stories by Swedish author Karin Tidbeck. Several of the stories were collected in the original Swedish in Vem är Arvid Pekon?, and some have appeared in translation in magazines and anthologies, but this is Tidbeck’s first full-length collection in English. It’s no surprise that the collection is published by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s imprint.
The stories in Jagannath are a little hard to categorize, but are best described as “weird tales”. ”Who is Arvid Pekon? ”, evokes a Philip K. Dick-like feeling of empty, absurd bureaucracy (and the resulting existential anxieties). Elsewhere, stories such as “Augusta Prima” and “Aunts” use a warped fairy tale landscape to unsettle the reader. “Aunts”, particularly, is a rather disturbing tale that uses grotesque imagery to great effect.
My favorite stories in the book are the ones that make clever use of Swedish geography and tradition. “Brita’s Holiday Village” and “Reindeer Mountain” are the clearest examples of this. However, in my opinion, the strongest story of the entire book is “Pyret”, which blends unsettling, weird, fictional folklore with an unconventional narrative technique. Interestingly, Tidbeck translated her stories herself, and the book includes an afterword by the author on the process of translation. This is an added bonus and enhances enjoyment of the collection. Highly recommended for fans of the weird tale, ages 12 to adult.
Contains: some sexual references, some violence, cannibalism
Reviewed by Hannah Kate