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Wretchedness
Cover of Wretchedness
Wretchedness
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Waiting by the canal in Malmö, a young cellist meets a disorientated junkie. The encounter sends him into a turmoil of memories, voices and associations. As the cellist oscillates between present and past, he is paralysed by doubt and confusion and he begins to question his own place in society.


From sprawling social housing estates, via basement clubs and squat parties, and culminating in a dramatic role reversal, Wretchedness is a delirious trip through Europe's underbelly. With a rhythmic, mesmerising flow, Tichy's novel explores the possibility of social mobility and the ambivalent desire to escape your origins, asking how to love your neighbour when that neighbour is an addict, a criminal, wretched.

Waiting by the canal in Malmö, a young cellist meets a disorientated junkie. The encounter sends him into a turmoil of memories, voices and associations. As the cellist oscillates between present and past, he is paralysed by doubt and confusion and he begins to question his own place in society.


From sprawling social housing estates, via basement clubs and squat parties, and culminating in a dramatic role reversal, Wretchedness is a delirious trip through Europe's underbelly. With a rhythmic, mesmerising flow, Tichy's novel explores the possibility of social mobility and the ambivalent desire to escape your origins, asking how to love your neighbour when that neighbour is an addict, a criminal, wretched.

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About the Author-
  • Andrzej Tichy was born in Prague to a Polish mother and a Czech father. He has lived in Sweden since 1981. The author of five novels, a short story collection and a wide range of nonfiction and criticism, Tichy is widely recognized as one of the most important novelists of his generation. His latest novel Eländet (Wretchedness) is a postpolitical foray into modern day Swedish society. It was shortlisted for the August Prize 2016, Sweden's most prestigious literary prize.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2020
    A musician takes stock of his sordid life in this seedy, stream-of-consciousness confessional set in the streets, basements, and other hives of Sweden. Tich�'s sort-of-novel was shortlisted for Sweden's most prestigious literary prize, but whether this ranting, breathless confessional makes more sense in the original language is anyone's guess. Even if it had more form and a less nonsensical style, at best it would keep company with the likes of Kerouac and the form-shattering Beats or maybe with the junkie lit that takes a meandering path from Burroughs to Irvine Welsh and on to Tony O'Neill's desperate memoirs or, more recently, Nico Walkers' Cherry. Yes, there are chapter breaks, but the novel itself is not so much crafted as unloaded in one rarely broken, sporadically punctuated block of first-person soliloquy by the protagonist, a freelance musician named Cody. As they say, music is his life, and he spends much of the novel pontificating on genres and specific bands ranging from John Cage to Nirvana in High Fidelity-like fashion, although his specific obsession seems to be with the surrealistic Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi. The book is also something of a contemplation on mortality, as punctuated by the musician's brief introductory interlude with a half-beaten addict on a bridge that comes back around as a surrealistic echo late in the game. The setting is raw, largely taking place in ugly hidey-holes that could just as easily be found in the council blocks of London or Edinburgh or Chicago's public housing projects as in the gritty housing estates dotting the city of Malm�, Sweden. A mostly forgettable supporting cast doesn't distract much from Cody's self-lacerating monologues, which can run pages at a time with only the occasional comma to break his caustic train of thought: "...I don't know, Cody, I don't know why I'm going over this again, over and over again, this mess, over and over again, this miserable shit, this murderously boring dirge..." and so on and on and on. An inventive, linguistically adept experiment that appears to have been made painful to read on purpose.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Wretchedness
Wretchedness
Andrzej Tichý
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