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Friday, September 27, 2019

The Christmas Oratorio (1984) by Goran Tunström


Book Review
The Christmas Oratorio (1984)
by Goran Tunström

Replaces: Possession by A.S. Byatt

  The Christmas Oratorio is a multi-generational family drama set in Sweden between 1930's and the present day (the 80's.)  The common theme linking the three generations- the father, the son, who qualifies as the protagonist, and a third generation.  The Nordensson family suffers tragedy from go, when the family matriarch dies in a freak bicycle accident, trampled by cattle on her way to the Church to perform the title track.

  Aron, the father, gives up the family farm and emigrates to the city, where he finds work minding the liquor supply of a local hotelier.  Sidner, the son (Aron is the father), has an unusual childhood in pre-World War II- I'm assuming it's Stockholm but I guess it could be Malmo or really any city in Sweden.   Sidner is a sad little boy with a weird little friend.  He hooks up with an older bohemian broad who is obsessed with a local explorer- they end up producing the third generation.  The father becomes increasingly erratic and leaves for New Zealand to meet a spinster- she becomes the last major character of the story.

  It's a classic second edition of the 1001 Books list pick- an underrepresented area (Sweden/Scandinavia) but the selection is a pedestrian one in terms of diversity: white, christian, men.

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