Stories of our perverted present and our haunted futures

By Jonas Eika
Translated by Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg

Word delight comes from the verbal form of an earlier word, desire – to make a hole, to drill, to penetrate – with delight itself linked to through, from where we draw through. I just want to clarify how I mean the word, when I describe “After the Sun,” Jonas Eika’s first collection of stories, as endlessly exciting. Many enduring and vibrant scenes involve literal penetration – yes, sexual, but also otherwise, ritual, for example, or symbolic. And it is the language also which pierces, which makes vibrate. The sentences of these stories transcend the limits of the ordinary to the extraordinary, and there are moments that give the impression of stepping into the sublime.

Eika is Danish. He published a widely acclaimed novel in his home country in 2015, when he was in his early twenties. “After the Sun” is her first book translated into English, and kudos to translator Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg, who has managed to capture not only the meaningful nonsense, but the energy of a writer determined to defamiliarize the everyday uses of the language. tongue. The effect of prose is similar to what a character feels in front of a video wall: “as if they had been gathered in a parallel universe, where each product was slightly different from the corresponding one in our world, so that, for example, you might identify a chocolate bar but at the same time find this description inadequate, because you met this object for the first time, and it was glowing, the wall was glowing with colors that I had never seen before. “

This line is taken from the first and most impressive of stories, “Alvin,” which follows a computer consultant who arrives in Copenhagen to find out that the bank he is supposed to visit has collapsed. This leads to an affair with the holder Alvin, a young man who buys and sells derivatives. In quick passages tinged with eroticism, Eika describes the perversities of trading in ‘futures’, so that the reader not only understands the metaphor, but feels the dread when Alvin proclaims:’ The prices of commodities do not indicate no more value, past or present – they are only ghosts of the future. Reducing the complexity of financial markets into vibrant prose seems as difficult as it needs to be, if art is to accommodate our current way of life. In another moment, both Kafkaesque and hyper-contemporary, even prescient, the narrator crawls through the ruins of the bank, where the technocrats continue, setting up temporary workstations among the broken marble.

“Bad Mexican Dog” takes place in Cancún, among a group of beach boys. Once again, Eika takes on the industry’s perversions, this time looking at economically stratified and racialized tourist economies. The scaling up and downgrading, along with the smoldering class rage, will resonate with anyone who has ever had strictly paid tipping work – not quite sex work, but sexualized work. And those who have traveled to a country poorer than their own to lie on a private beach will recognize both the hypocrisy and the sincere desire to be the right liberal tourist. But don’t think that these stories are just satire or hold up a mirror. The majority of the events in “After the Sun” are either distorted or totally unrecognizable, a mixture of science fiction and grotesque, an orgy of the unpredictable.

The other two stories take place between the outskirts of London and the Nevada desert. The underlying storylines – a trio of drug addicts expecting a child, or UFO hunters – may seem less exciting or substantial. I advise against reading “After the Sun” from cover to cover, because the build-up of unpredictability, the relentless thrill, will probably start to wear out: when something can happen, why and how it happens. happening matters less and less. Instead, allow a little time to clean the palate between each room. The stories aren’t flawless, and the accomplishments of stylistic originality, the bumps, often come at the expense of a sincere connection with the characters, but honestly, in this case, it’s more than a fair compromise, to be pierced and delighted again.

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