I’m doing well with my resolution to read more translated fiction – eight out of twenty books read so far this year. Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti is yet another brilliant Nordic novel from Sweden to be translated for us to read.
Both heartwarming and heartwrenching, this romance of two thirtysomethings who are total opposites was a wonderful story to read. Desiree is a widow; she works as a librarian and loves urban living and culture. Benny is a bachelor farmer. They meet in the cemetery where Desiree contemplates her late husband’s austere gravestone, and adjacently Benny lovingly tends his parents’ rather over the top plastic garden of a tomb. They try to ignore each other, but one day the antics of a little girl playing at another grave make them turn and smile at each other and that’s it! Love hits them like a bolt of lightning. How can a romance between a horny-handed son of the soil and the urbanite culture-vulture ever possibly work? This is their story.
Told in alternating chapters from Benny and Shrimp’s points of views, (Shrimp is Benny’s nickname for Desiree), we get their individual takes on the progress in their relationship. We experience all their ups, downs, frustration and exhilaration with them, and the tale is told with great humour and sympathy. I nearly cried with sadness at one point, then suddenly I was grinning with tears of happiness pricking my eyes instead. A lovely, lovely book.