Synopses & Reviews
A New York Review Books Original
Deception–the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell others –is the subject of The True Deceiver, Tove Janssons most unnerving and unpredictable novel. Here Jansson takes a darker look at the subjects that animate the best of her work: solitude and community, art and life, love and hate.
All winter long the snow has been falling on the village. The sun rises late in the day, and once it does, there is little to do but trade tales. This year the talk of the town is all about Katri Kling and Anna Aemelin. Katri is a yellow-eyed outcast who lives in a room with her simple teenaged brother and a dog she never bothered to name. She has no use for the daily dishonesties that smooth social life, but she can see to the rational core of any problem. Anna, an elderly childrens book illustrator, is a respected and easygoing, if aloof, member of society. She lives alone in her family mansion, venturing out come springtime to paint exquisitely detailed paintings of the forest floor (to which her young fans insist she add adorable pink bunnies). When Anna needs someone to help around the house, Katri eagerly volunteers. Its not long before she and her brother have moved into the mansion and taken charge of just about every aspect of Annas life and livelihood. As the season becomes increasingly oppressive, the two women find themselves engaged in a confrontation that will gradually strip away their cherished illusions.
Deception--the lies people tell themselves and the lies they tell others--is the subject of Jansson's most unnerving and unpredictable novel to date.
A New York Review Books Original
Deception—the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell others—is the subject of this, Tove Janssons most unnerving and unpredictable novel. Here Jansson takes a darker look at the subjects that animate the best of her work, from her sensitive tale of island life, The Summer Book, to her famous Moomin stories: solitude and community, art and life, love and hate.
Snow has been falling on the village all winter long. It covers windows and piles up in front of doors. The sun rises late and sets early, and even during the day there is little to do but trade tales. This year everybodys talking about Katri Kling and Anna Aemelin. Katri is a yellow-eyed outcast who lives with her simpleminded brother and a dog she refuses to name. She has no use for the white lies that smooth social intercourse, and she can see straight to the core of any problem. Anna, an elderly childrens book illustrator, appears to be Katris opposite: a respected member of the village, if an aloof one. Anna lives in a large empty house, venturing out in the spring to paint exquisitely detailed forest scenes. But Anna has something Katri wants, and to get it Katri will take control of Annas life and livelihood. By the time spring arrives, the two women are caught in a conflict of ideals that threatens to strip them of their most cherished illusions.
About the Author
(1914-2001) was born in Helsinki into Finlands Swedish-speaking minority. Her father was a sculptor and her mother a graphic designer and illustrator. Winters were spent in the familys art-filled studio and summers in a fishermans cottage on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, a setting that would later figure in Janssons writing for adults and children. Jansson loved books as a child and set out from an early age to be an artist; her first illustration was published when she was fifteen years old; four years later a picture book appeared under a pseudonym. After attending art schools in both Stockholm and Paris, she returned to Helsinki, where in the 1940s and 50s she won acclaim for her paintings and murals. From 1929 until 1953 Jansson drew humorous illustrations and political cartoons for the left-leaning anti-Fascist Finnish-Swedish magazine Garm, and it was there that what was to become Janssons most famous creation, Moomintroll, a hippopotamus-like character with a dreamy disposition, made his first appearance. Jansson went on to write about the adventures of Moomintroll, the Moomin family, and their curious friends in a long-running comic strip and in a series of books for children that have been translated throughout the world, inspiring films, several television series, an opera, and theme parks in Finland and Japan. Jansson also wrote novels and short stories for adults, of which The Sculptors Daughter, The Summer Book, Sun City, Fair Play
, and The True Deceiver
have been translated into English. In 1994 she was awarded the Prize of the Swedish Academy. Jansson and her companion, the artist Tuulikki Pietilä, continued to live part-time in a cottage on the remote outer edge of the Finnish archipelago until 1991.
Thomas Teal has translated Tove Janssons The Summer Book, Sun City, and Fair Play.
Ali Smith is the author of seven works of fiction, including the novel Hotel World, which was short-listed for the Booker Prize in 2001, and The Accidental, which won the Whitbread Award in 2005 and was short-listed for the 2005 Man Booker Prize.