Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sculptor's Daughter, by Tove Jansson

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

Artist, illustrator and novelist, Tove Jansson is best known for her Moomin stories for children. Lesser known is her adult fiction, which she started writing in her fifties.

Sculptor’s Daughter, first published in 1968 and long out of print for English readers (Jansson wrote in Swedish), is her first collection of shorter fiction for adults. (It should be noted that several of these stories were included in the Jansson compilation A Winter Book.)

The stories presented here are really dream-like autobiographical sketches that read like prose poems. Her artist parents are at the centre of this fictional memoir, but so is the creative spirit of the young Tove. If you’ve read the Moomin stories, the links to Moomin Valley are quite clear: there are strange transformations, mysterious appearances, and mercurial shades of dark and light.

There is a captivating hallucinatory quality to Sculptor’s Daughter that makes you not sure if you’re coming or going.  Tove Jansson’s world is a surreal one, but one that is also sincere and heartfelt.

Sculptor's Daughter: A Childhood Memoir. Published by Sort Of Books. ISBN: 9781908745330  RRP: $24.99