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Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto

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Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A brilliant and unnerving debut novel about the mysteriously ill patients at a remote hospital in Finland

In a remote, piney wood in Finland stands a convalescent hospital called Suvanto, a curving concrete example of austere Scandinavian design. It is the 1920s, and the patients, all women, seek relief from ailments real and imagined. On the lower floors are the stoic Finnish women; on the upper floors are foreign women of privilege—the “up-patients.” They are tended to by head nurse Sunny Taylor, an American who has fled an ill-starred life only to retreat behind a mask of crisp professionalism. On a late-summer day a new patient arrives on Sunnys ward— a faded, irascible former ballroom-dance instructor named Julia Dey. Sunny takes it upon herself to pierce the mystery of Julias reserve. Soon, Julias difficulty, her tightly coiled anger, places her at the center of the wards tangled emotional life. This fraught dynamic animates Maile Chapmans ambitious first novel. As summer turns to fall, and fall to a long, dark winter, the patients hear rumors about changes being implemented at Suvanto by an American obstetrician, Dr. Peter Weber, who is experimenting with a new surgical stitch. Their familiar routine threatened, the women are not happy (they were not happy before), and the storys escalating menace builds to a terrifying conclusion.

Maile Chapman's stories have appeared in A Public Space, Literary Review, The Mississippi Review, and Post Road. She earned her MFA from Syracuse University and is currently a Schaeffer Fellow in Fiction at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
In a remote, piney wood in Finland stands a convalescent hospital called Suvanto, a curving concrete example of austere Scandinavian design. It is the early years of the twentieth century, and the patients, all women, seek relief from ailments real and imagined. On the lower floors are the stoic Finnish women; on the upper floors are foreign women of privilege—the “up-patients.” They are tended to by head nurse Sunny Taylor, an American who has fled an ill-starred life only to retreat behind a mask of crisp professionalism.
 
On a late-summer day a new patient arrives on Sunnys ward—a faded, irascible former ballroom-dance instructor named Julia Dey. Sunny takes it upon herself to pierce the mystery of Julias reserve. Soon, Julias difficulty, her tightly coiled anger, places her at the center of the wards tangled emotional life.
 
This fraught dynamic animates Maile Chapmans ambitious first novel. As summer turns to fall, and fall to a long, dark winter, the patients hear rumors about changes being implemented at Suvanto by an American obstetrician, Dr. Peter Weber, who is experimenting with a new surgical stitch. Their familiar routine threatened, the women are not happy (they were not happy before), and the storys escalating menace builds to a terrifying conclusion.
"Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto is a skillfully restrained psychological thriller set at a convalescent home in rural 1920s Finland, an apt location for a novel about isolation, insomnia and the onset of madness. For narrator Sunny Taylor, an American nurse who leaves home after the death of her mother, Finland is a place where 'quiet and routine settle even more firmly with the snow,' and the books subtle, slow accrual of moodiness and dark humor feeds the smoldering ambiance. Maile Chapmans precise, controlled language captures the crushing monotony of hospital life (the dispensing of medications, the saturated dressings that must be changed at intervals, the log where every action is to be recorded), and these repetitions contribute to a sense of constricting, institutionalized doom. Not since the Overlook Hotel has a place so enormous felt so claustrophobic . . . Chapmans decision to maintain a stance of detachment, even during the novels devastating and slow denouement, is a brilliant move."—Time Out New York

"Maile Chapman is one of my favorite writers and in Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto she has given us an eerie gift of a novel. It is a superb hallucinatory piercing, an ominous dispatch from that Gothic frontier of the Female Body."—Junot Díaz

"Rural Finland may not seem a very likely locale for a gripping intellectual thriller, but pulling this off is merely the first of Maile Chapmans many accomplishments here. Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto—what a title!—is as creepy as Patricia Highsmith at her best and as psychologically sharp (and confounding) as early Ian McEwan. With its portrayal of how quickly the conscience in shipwreck succumbs to delusion, Chapman has written more than a beautifully observed and utterly convincing first novel: she has written something of unfakeable importance."—Tom Bissell

"Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto is a lucid dream of a book; it is extremely clear and unnerving and full of gorgeously written surprises and frightening marvels."—Audrey Niffenegger

"It's no accident that Chapman chooses the isolated landscape of Finland to tell her gothic tale because it's in the cold and dark that she burns and shines. In language that is both ornate and journalistic, Maile Chapman defies our expectations on every page. Her mainline into the unconscious has you convinced she's writing while in the midst of a nightmare, working at the desk of the devil. And yet her characters are remarkably human which is what makes this book impossible to put down. Patrick McGrath comes to mind, even Edgar Allan Poe. But really, Chapman is an original, a marvel, a voice that must be read."—Julia Slavin

"Maile Chapmans debut novel makes a great case for commanding titles. Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto—yikes! The very words induce a chill, but at the same time beckon the reader in, deep into the snowy Finnish countryside, to Suvanto, an early-20th-century convalescent hospital, where Finnish and American women rest their troubled bodies and minds. No surprise, all is not well at Suvanto. The patients can be difficult, and often inscrutable, as they band together against their caretakers, unsettling even Sunny Taylor, the consummate nurse, who has escaped troubles of her own in America. With the arrival of a particularly unruly patient named Julia, and an American gynecologist harboring progressive ambitions, the atmosphere of Suvanto, already laden with institutional anxiety, becomes almost impossible to control. 'One danger of constant observation,' Chapman writes ominously, 'is that all the world, even tragedy, comes to seem anecdotal.' In our post-feminist times, we tend to romanticize womens liberation or else ignore it altogether, but Chapmans eerie (if at times aloof) novel reminds us of the personal pains endured on that road to progress—and the roaring silence of the female body just before it found its voice."—Carolyn Huckabay, Philadelphia City Paper

Review:

"A novelist in search of an appropriate setting for a bleak novel in the 19th-century tradition, where tuberculosis kills thousands and women are routinely deprived their societal voice, would be hard-pressed to find a more fitting venue than the Finnish convalescence ward where Chapman has set her anxious debut. Ex-dancer Julia is a reluctant tenant of the Suvanto Sairaala, attended to by an American nurse named Sunny Taylor with whom she shares an uneasy connection. The two women weather a succession of historical set pieces involving the consequences of imperfectly understood obstetrics, Finland's changing relationship with Russia, and madness. If the patients and doctors like Pearl Weber; her surgeon husband, the stitch-happy Peter; and the defiant Mary Minder are a microcosm for Chapman, they're little more than guinea pigs for Peter's increasingly sinister experiments. The haunted atmosphere, though, is routinely undercut by injections of elementary Finnish, periods of moody dead air, and an unnecessarily extended dnouement. It's much tamer than the gothics it emulates, but its proto-feminist subtext and Ingmar Bergman aura are brilliantly communicated, making for a promising, if not always satisfying, first novel." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Sunny Taylor is an American nurse who hides behind a mask of crisp professionalism at a Finnish convalescent hospital called Suvanto. On a late-summer day, a new patient arrives on Sunnys ward, and soon Suvantos reliable calm begins to show signs of strain. As summer turns to fall, and fall to a long, dark winter, the escalating menace of Maile Chapmans astonishing debut novel builds to a terrifying conclusion.

Synopsis:

A brilliant and unnerving debut novel about the mysteriously ill patients at a remote hospital in Finland

In a remote, piney wood in Finland stands a convalescent hospital called Suvanto, a curving concrete example of austere Scandinavian design. It is the 1920s, and the patients, all women, seek relief from ailments real and imagined. On the lower floors are the stoic Finnish women; on the upper floors are foreign women of privilege—the “up-patients.” They are tended to by head nurse Sunny Taylor, an American who has fled an ill-starred life only to retreat behind a mask of crisp professionalism. On a late-summer day a new patient arrives on Sunnys ward— a faded, irascible former ballroom-dance instructor named Julia Dey. Sunny takes it upon herself to pierce the mystery of Julias reserve. Soon, Julias difficulty, her tightly coiled anger, places her at the center of the wards tangled emotional life. This fraught dynamic animates Maile Chapmans ambitious first novel. As summer turns to fall, and fall to a long, dark winter, the patients hear rumors about changes being implemented at Suvanto by an American obstetrician, Dr. Peter Weber, who is experimenting with a new surgical stitch. Their familiar routine threatened, the women are not happy (they were not happy before), and the storys escalating menace builds to a terrifying conclusion.

About the Author

Maile Chapman's stories have appeared in A Public Space, the Literary Review, The Mississippi Review, and Post Road. She earned her MFA from Syracuse University and is currently a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781555975531
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Chapman, Maile
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20110524
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
280
Dimensions:
9.00 x 6.00 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto Used Hardcover
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Product details 280 pages Graywolf Press - English 9781555975531 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "A novelist in search of an appropriate setting for a bleak novel in the 19th-century tradition, where tuberculosis kills thousands and women are routinely deprived their societal voice, would be hard-pressed to find a more fitting venue than the Finnish convalescence ward where Chapman has set her anxious debut. Ex-dancer Julia is a reluctant tenant of the Suvanto Sairaala, attended to by an American nurse named Sunny Taylor with whom she shares an uneasy connection. The two women weather a succession of historical set pieces involving the consequences of imperfectly understood obstetrics, Finland's changing relationship with Russia, and madness. If the patients and doctors like Pearl Weber; her surgeon husband, the stitch-happy Peter; and the defiant Mary Minder are a microcosm for Chapman, they're little more than guinea pigs for Peter's increasingly sinister experiments. The haunted atmosphere, though, is routinely undercut by injections of elementary Finnish, periods of moody dead air, and an unnecessarily extended dnouement. It's much tamer than the gothics it emulates, but its proto-feminist subtext and Ingmar Bergman aura are brilliantly communicated, making for a promising, if not always satisfying, first novel." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
Sunny Taylor is an American nurse who hides behind a mask of crisp professionalism at a Finnish convalescent hospital called Suvanto. On a late-summer day, a new patient arrives on Sunnys ward, and soon Suvantos reliable calm begins to show signs of strain. As summer turns to fall, and fall to a long, dark winter, the escalating menace of Maile Chapmans astonishing debut novel builds to a terrifying conclusion.
"Synopsis" by ,

A brilliant and unnerving debut novel about the mysteriously ill patients at a remote hospital in Finland

In a remote, piney wood in Finland stands a convalescent hospital called Suvanto, a curving concrete example of austere Scandinavian design. It is the 1920s, and the patients, all women, seek relief from ailments real and imagined. On the lower floors are the stoic Finnish women; on the upper floors are foreign women of privilege—the “up-patients.” They are tended to by head nurse Sunny Taylor, an American who has fled an ill-starred life only to retreat behind a mask of crisp professionalism. On a late-summer day a new patient arrives on Sunnys ward— a faded, irascible former ballroom-dance instructor named Julia Dey. Sunny takes it upon herself to pierce the mystery of Julias reserve. Soon, Julias difficulty, her tightly coiled anger, places her at the center of the wards tangled emotional life. This fraught dynamic animates Maile Chapmans ambitious first novel. As summer turns to fall, and fall to a long, dark winter, the patients hear rumors about changes being implemented at Suvanto by an American obstetrician, Dr. Peter Weber, who is experimenting with a new surgical stitch. Their familiar routine threatened, the women are not happy (they were not happy before), and the storys escalating menace builds to a terrifying conclusion.

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