Original title: Sivuhenkilö
Pages: 233 pp.
A witty and honest artist’s novel about a year in the life of a debut author.
When the narrator of the novel receives the hot-off-the-press copies of her debut novel, she feels like everything has changed. Strangely enough, no one else seems to notice this. Thus begins an intensive year of esteemed literary prizes, ambivalent reviews, strange interview questions and awkward marketing activities. All the while the narrator ponders the meaning of it all. Does it matter whether you have three or three thousand readers? Do only great men create great art, or has ‘great art’ been defined by men, to begin with? Is a life outside the norms of society the price you pay for of making art – and more importantly, can it be a happy life?
The Bystander is a new kind of a artist’s novel. At the same time ironic and earnest, it addresses the issues of making art in a world that has changed, when the romantic ideal of the great male artist has not: the novel follows in the footsteps of Virginia Woolf and Jean Rhys, still finding its own way. The text shifts between fiction and reality, mixing shame and self-contemptuous humor with sharp narration.
A must-read for anyone who has ever felt like a bystander in their own life.