ORIGINAL TITLE: Boken
AUTHOR: Niklas Rådström
A lone figure is hunched over a book. While page after page is filled with words and meaning, a whole world and struggling humanity emerges. The writer sends out three angels to create order and justice among all those who seek to gain dominion over their future.
Niklas Rådström’s novel The Book extends across thousands of years and is unlike any other, save the most widely distributed book in the world. It is a bold and visionary rendition of the books of the Bible as a single story of creation and life, full of poetry and powerful stories.
“It is a remarkable novel and evidently the result of many years spent pondering what the Bible really is and what it has to say. The Book is a marvelously beautiful and moving novel. Technically, we know that the Bible is a collection of rigorously edited and propagandistic texts written by a number of different authors. It falls apart and suffers from paradoxes and oddities. Technically speaking. But the calculating ingenuousness with which Rådström takes on the book of books, is startlingly effective.”
“Through the beautifully elevated prose that flows so lightly across the pages, the strong forward movement and the shrewd narrative technique – God as a writer – which create such mobility in the text, even the most burdensome questions can be presented without tom-toms and grand gestures. … Clearly, Rådström is innovative when it comes to choosing narrative perspectives and profound readings of the books of the Bible. At the same time, I wonder if the real innovation in the book is not about blowing life into something very old: a symbolic view, the mind of archetypes and mythology, yes, all that helps us lift our gaze to a shared humanity and start asking the big questions about what it’s like to be a member of humanity.”
“Niklas Rådström’s prose possesses a sheen and acuity that is astounding and incomparable. I read The Book with a mixture of devoutness and captivated rapture. The prose entices and glistens, shimmers and breathes. It is beautiful and melancholic. It seduces and enthralls. Rådström conjures up both magic and misery, a saturated mystique co-exists alongside sordid everyday events. Here is life. Here is love and disease, hostility and affinity, war and peaceful periods of unity, suffering and agonizing death. Here, both major and minor emotions are captured with grand accuracy. Smells and colors, animals and landscapes, the stench of carcass and the scent of flowers, pain and joy, ferocious rulers and both mighty and poor with forgiving and understanding natures – all of this Niklas Rådström manages to portray with great precision and a sharp sensitivity that magnetizes and – yes, fascinates.”
“Rådström plays with literature, but he does it with respect for the sources and without transforming his adversarial project into a type of insufferably self-conscious and obstinate monster affected by hubris. Instead he has condensed the stories of the canonized document and, like some kind of Prometheus, brought them closer to the people. From a pure theological-fundamentalist perspective, this book is of course blasphemous. On the other hand, it is never irreverent, but instead written with a genuine fascination for the Biblical stories, and above all with a desire to simply relate ‘the joy of existence’.”
“The Book is written in a dizzyingly beautiful, crystal clear prose mixed with Biblical cadences. It is inquisitive, deeply human and refreshingly ambitious, respectful but never evasive: an indefeasible piece of literature.”