Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Parable Book by Per Olov Enquist

The Parable Book by Per Olov Enquist
Original Swedish publication in 2013. English translation by Deborah Bragan-Turner published by MacLehose Press today (2nd June 2016).

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The Parable Book is described in its synopsis as 'the true story of a love affair between a fifteen-year old boy and a 51-year-old woman. This is the love story P. O. Enquist never thought he would be able to write and a distillation of the life and work of a great author, who owes it all to an encounter with an older woman.' Our teenage protagonist, 'Perola, who is not so distinguishable from Enquist himself, lived in a village in the Swedish province of Västerbotten. Ellen, a visitor from south of Stockholm rented a cottage there for a summer. He is 15. She is 51. The attraction is instant. Their ages palindromic. They lie down together on the knot-free pine floor.'

I hadn't read any of Enquist's work before and was attracted to this book by reports of its great success in the original Swedish version. Unfortunately I now don't think it was a good place to start! I managed to struggle just over half-way through before giving up, still really none the wiser as to the underlying narrative. The prose rambles around various reminiscences of family and childhood and statements are frequently italicised although I usually couldn't interpret their importance. Perhaps readers familiar with Enquist's previous writing would get more from this book, but I was just baffled.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Per Olov Enquist / Coming of age / Books from Sweden


  1. Sounds like maybe an opposite version of Lolita? But from your review I don't know that I'd pick this up. Good review though, gives me exactly what I need to know to make that decision!

    1. Thanks Lisa :-)

      I've since read other glowing reviews that praise Enquist's merging of threads and themes from his previous works. I think I should have started with a earlier novel and progressed forward, but I'm not really keen to give his writing another chance just yet!