Monday, October 26, 2009
book review: benny and shrimp by katarina mazetti
Summary: Benny & Shrimp is a delightfully quirky Swedish love story. Benny and Shrimp are both teetering toward middle age and meet at a cemetery. Shrimp is a recent widow, and her husband's grave is next to Benny's mother's grave. Their story questions and answers and questions and answers whether opposites attract, repel or both. Shrimp is a librarian, which I always enjoy! Benny is a farmer. They have different worlds, different interests and different temperaments, yet they are inexplicably drawn to one another.
Cover note: I included both the British (left) cover and the U.S. (right) cover because I like the British one better, but I want readers to recognize the U.S. version when they see it!
Review: There are some books that grab me as a reader right away, and there are some books I teeter along with, not really forming an opinion. This book was one of the latter, but about half-way through, I was hooked. Mazetti has a gift for complexity masked as simplicity. At the beginning of the novel, Benny and Shrimp were just ordinary people leading their ordinary lives, and not much seemed to happen. The book turns into a fascinating look at the human spirit, the ways we communicate, and how different or similar we really are. I can't recall reading any other Swedish literature, but I mostly forgot this book was set (and originally written in) Swedish. Geography was not a character in this book, but there were definitely some cultural insights. At the end of the day, I really enjoyed this book. Oddly, despite being the title and main characters, neither Benny nor Shrimp was my favorite part of this novel. Instead, I found myself drawn into the side story of Inez, one of Shrimp's co-workers. I would love to see this book turned into a movie. Despite geography not being a strong aspect of the story for me, it was an incredibly visual book, and incredibly dialogue heavy. I sincerely hope Katarina Mazetti writers another novel.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5) - loved it
Publication date: July 2009
Source: Thank you to Caitlin at FSB Associates for providing me with a copy of this novel!