The Woman Who Borrowed Memories: Selected Stories.pdf
An NYRB Classics Original
Tove Jansson excelled at the brief tale, writing stories that in their short spans unfold to reveal entire worlds. This is true of her internationally syndicated cartoon strip about a family of hippo-like creatures, the Moomins; of her beloved Moomin novels; and of her best-selling books for adults, like The Summer Book. Until now, however, Jansson’s short stories have been nearly impossible to find in the United States. This volume brings together, for the first time in English, a generous selection of stories from the most fruitful period of her career, from her earliest collected stories, dating from the early 1970s, to her mature work, written not long before her death in 2001. In them are moments of the sublime and the mundane, as well as small heroisms and large griefs. Unsentimental, yet kind and humane, Jansson’s short stories complement and enlarge our understanding of a giant of world literature.
“They are tough as good rope, [Jansson’s stories], as smooth and odd and beautiful as sea-worn driftwood, as full of light and air and wind as the Nordic summer.” —Phillip Pullman
“It could be said that everything she wrote is, in one way or another, about the creative interactions between art and reality or art and nature.” —The Guardian
Praise for other NYRB Classics by Tove Jansson and translated by Thomas Teal:
“In this brilliantly translated novel from the Swedish by Thomas Teal, Finnish-born author Tove Jansson, whose Moomin children’s books may be familiar to some readers, gives us a spare, rich collection of vignettes. A novel, a short-story collection, and an autobiographical journey, Fair Play centers on the lives of two creative women—Mari, the writer, and Jonna, the artist...For those who have yet to discover Jansson, her writing is a true pleasure, and her characters, although sparse on dialogue, are complex, passionate, and deeply empathetic. Recommend Jansson to readers of Anita Brookner’s similarly introspective novels.” —Booklist, starred review
“Jansson reveals the ambiguities in every encounter. There are no easy moral judgments. Only the very finest art can show us so many shades of psychological nuance, yet make them visible with such clarity.” —Damion Searls, Harp
“Fairness and playfulness are at the heart of this delightful novel, which chronicles in 17 luminous snapshots a shared artistic life...Jansson has a knack for packing a good deal of wit and wisdom into ostensibly simple tales. These deft and gentle stories are as refreshing as a dip in chilly Finnish seas.” —The Guardian
“I loved this book. It’s cool in both senses of the word, understated yet exciting, and with a tension that keeps you reading. I felt transported to that remote region of Sweden and when I finished it I read it all over again. The characters still haunt me.” —Ruth Rendell
“A dark companion to her glowing The Summer Book. Here the setting is winter, and the almost Highsmithian subject concerns a woman who inveigles herself into the life of a famous, and rich, writer. Jansson’s writing is, as always, understated yet acute and thrilling.” —Los Angeles Times
“Her description is unhurried, accurate and vivid, an artist’s vision...The sentences are beautiful in structure, movement and cadence. They have inevitable rightness. And this is a translation! Thomas Teal deserves to have his name on the title page with Jansson’s: he worked the true translator’s miracle...the most beautiful and satisfying novel I have read this year.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian
“A novel about truth, deception, self-deception and the honest uses of fiction, The True Deceiver is almost deadpan in its clarity and seeming simplicity, and is at heart one of her most mysterious and subtle works.” —Ali Smith, The Guardian
“Poetic understatement, dry humor and a deep love for nature are obvious throughout [Jansson’s] oeuvre...The book is as lovely, as evocative as a film by Hayao Miyazaki.” —Time Out New York
“The Summer Book manages to make you feel good as well as wise, without having to make too much effort...[it] says so much that we want to hear in such an accessible form, without ever really saying anything at all.” —The Independent
Tove Jansson (1914–2001) was born in Helsinki, attended art schools in Stockholm and Paris, and upon her return to Finland in the late 1940s won acclaim for her paintings and murals. It was in the left-leaning anti-Fascist Finnish-Swedish magazine Garm where her most famous creation, Moomintroll, made his first appearance. Jansson also wrote eleven novels and short-story collections for adults, including The Summer Book, The True Deceiver, and Fair Play (available as NYRB Classics).
Lauren Groff is a novelist and short story writer. Her books include The Monsters of Templeton, Delicate Edible Birds, and, most recently, Arcadia. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.
Thomas Teal has translated Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book, The True Deceiver, and Fair Play for which he was awarded the Bernard Shaw Prize for Translation from the Swedish in 2009. He lives in Massachusetts.
Silvester Mazzarella is a translator of Italian and Swedish literature and has taught at the University of Helsinki. He lives in the United Kingdom.