Translated by Sylvia Clayton
Whereas I’m not formally operating Nordic FINDS this 12 months, probably not having time for the admin, I nonetheless like studying Nordic books in the course of the darker months of the 12 months, and I squeezed on this Danish dystopia on the finish of December, and when you want to use the tag #NordicFINDS24 be at liberty!
Printed in Faber’s ‘Editions’ collection of rediscovered mid-century gems, Termush was first revealed in Danish in 1967, and in translation a few years later. This version provides an introduction (which I learn afterwards) by Jeff Vandermeer, present king of literary new bizarre eco-dystopias such because the Northern Attain Trilogy.
In Termush, we’re in a post-nuclear conflict state of affairs. We by no means came upon the main points of who dropped bombs on whom, however provided that the novel was written shortly after the peak of Chilly Conflict paranoia we are able to infer who could possibly be implicated.
Our unnamed narrator introduces us to Termush, a fully-prepped distant coastal resort for the pre-booked rich, with subterranean bunkers for days when the upstairs radiation is just too excessive. The brochure had warned concerning the nature of radiation.
Was it this warning that satisfied us that the issues most acquainted to us would, after the catastrophe, be essentially the most alien? That phosphorus would tumble down the desk of parts and switch into sulphur, that one thing with the looks of a acknowledged steel would show to be one thing fairly completely different with altogether completely different properties, that stone would now not be stone and air now not air, in order that to seek out an individual was a pillar of salt could be now not a fantasy however a actuality. […]
However we got here again from our keep within the shelter to a world modified lower than a summer season thunderstorm would have modified it.
At first, all the pieces appears to run easily. Then the resort administration ship out a reconnaissance workforce see what’s occurring within the outdoors world. In fact this has the impact of letting folks know they’re there, and occasional refugees begin to seem on the resort. This, after all, results in an ethical dilemma … the resort company have all paid by way of the nostril to ensure their locations, why ought to they let anybody who hasn’t paid in? However the humanitarian factor to do is to welcome them in, deal with their radiation illness and sickness (the resort does have a health care provider and deputy MO). The company fall into two camps, and resort administration has to provide you with a approach of coping with the refugees in a not inhuman approach – they maintain them to a employees space, feed them with non-guest meals and so on. However the sturdy personalities amongst the company are inflicting foment, which isn’t aligned to our narrator’s credo, and he retains increasingly more to himself, though he has a kind of relationship with a woman visitor, Maria, reverse him on his flooring.
You already know it may’t finish with them residing out their days within the sanctuary of the resort, after all. It’s so tough to close your self off when the skin world nonetheless exists in some kind and it’ll come crashing in, resulting in tough choices to be made, mainly, bunker or escape… I couldn’t probably say the way it ends.
JG Ballard was ploughing an analogous furrow within the early Nineteen Sixties, however his protagonists are normally males of motion relatively than thought as in Holm’s protagonist. That is an eerie novella certainly, nicely price its revival for our occasions now, and one other welcome addition to the Faber Editions collection.
Supply: Personal copy. Faber flapped paperback, 119 pages + intro.
BUY at Blackwell’s by way of my affiliate hyperlink (free UK P&P)