Review – Touch by Alexi Zentner

Hi,

Today I’ve got another book review for you (to be honest, I’ve still got two more to write). Lovelybooks and btb (Random House) provided me with the German Edition of Touch by Alexi Zentner called Das Flüstern des Schnees. I read it in a Lovelybooks reading group where we also got the chance to ask Mr. Zentner questions. If you’re interested in them, just head over there. They are in English :).

Touch
Image provided by Chatto & Windus¹
Summary provided by Chatto & Windus¹:

On the eve of his mother’s funeral, Stephen, a middle-aged priest, sits down to write her eulogy. But as the evening creeps into night, he is haunted by memories from his childhood: birthday trips to the cuts with his father; the moment his sister slipped under the thick winter ice forever; and the memorable day his grandfather, Jeannot, came home after a thirty-year absence with a bundle of bones in his pocket and a mission to raise the dead.
Masterfully weaving the stories from three generations of one family, Touch tells the founding tale of Sawgamet – originally a gold-mining village – where deep in the forest reign golden caribou drinking from a honey-sweet river. Yet also in the forest lurk malevolent shapeshifters disguising themselves as friends, storms raging against foolhardy settlers, and the forest taking back the land for itself, branch by branch and root by root.
Touch is a singular, startling debut as enchanting as it is unnerving. In this darkly sinister fairy tale Alexi Zentner builds a magical world as distinctive as a grown-up Narnia, and marks himself out as a real talent to watch.

My Thoughts:

Touch is set in the fictional town of Sawgamet somewhere deep in the woods of Canada. The book spans the life of three generations of a family living there from the second half of the 19th century onwards. I am fascinated by the world that Mr. Zentner created in Touch! You can feel the chilly ice and snow, you can see it glitter. You fear the dark woods but you are also fascinated by how vast they are. And while you walk through them, you can even see your breath against the light shining through the trees.

I’d say there are two important characters in Touch, the first one being the narrator, Stephen. The second is his grandfather Jeannot. The reader accompanies Jeannot through many years of his life. He is a tough and fearless man. But it seems like almost all men who come to Sawgamet are tough and fearless. I can’t really remember a feature that would distinguish Jeannot from any of the secondary characters. The same happens with the women in Touch. They are all quite similar. I’d guess this could be interpreted as a means of showing that the characters in the book could be exchanged for anyone.

The plot of Touch is very fascinating as it leaves room for interpretation. It is a work of magical realism after all. My theory is that Jeannot fights nature itself, as he came into the woods and took from them. Touch isn’t a book you’ll quickly read and put back on the shelf, it is a book that will make you go back and think about it.

bohnen4s

¹http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/touch/9780701185466

Lovelybooks Leserpreis Awards

Hey you,

I have great news for you, you’ll get an interview real soon 🙂 YAY! But now back to business 😉

You probably all know Goodreads Choice Awards (winners of 2013 will be announced on December 3rd) but do you know Lovelybooks Leserpreis awards? Well it’s basically the same concept. Readers vote for their favorite reads of the past year in different categories. BUT: There are no restrictions whatsoever concerning the country of publication. The books contain German-language publications as well as numerous translations. You can even nominate foreign language publications in the nomination round. The only restriction is that the books must be first-time publications in either hardcover, paperback or e-book format that have been published between December 1, 2012 and November 30, 2013.

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The nomination round ended last week. The final round is on right now and voting is open until November 28 11:59 p.m. German time (23:59 for our German readers). There is a countdown on the homepage.

I think we’ll just have a look at the categories on offer:

Romane / Novels

I guess this one is pretty self-explanatory. Everything that doesn’t fall into one of the other categories, or is a mix, or is so good that you want it here as well :D. At least that is what I think. In the nomination round, I voted for my favorite, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (It’s called Die Unvollendete in German). Unfortunately, and I don’t really get why, it wasn’t among the 35 nominees for the final round. So in the final round, I voted for another favorite this year: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (Das Licht Zwischen den Meeren in German).

Krimis und Thriller / Crime Novels & Thrillers

As I’m not into crime novels or thrillers, I didn’t vote in this category.

Fantasy

I can’t remember if I nominated an English-language novel in the first round. The fantasy books I’ve read this year either haven’t been translated to German yet, or they haven’t been that good. Nooo, you know what I did? I just remembered. I nominated Life After Life AGAIN 😀 Because it’s also fantasy. Kind of. lol I didn’t vote in the final round though. Nothing there to vote for me. Though I wish I had finally time to start reading Ben Aaronovitch!

Science Fiction

I nominated The Humans by Matt Haig. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it to the final round. The book wasn’t released in German yet, so nobody read it. Poop. Nothing to vote for me in the final round 😉

Jugendbücher / Young Adult

Booming YA genre. I left this one to the experts 🙂

Kinderbücher / Children’s Books

I love children’s books. But I mostly read the backlist. And I haven’t read Fortunately The Milk (Neil Gaiman) yet. Not that it would matter, as it hasn’t been translated to German and it probably wouldn’t have made it to the final round. BUT: I promise, I’ll vote for it next year if I think it worthy 🙂

Liebesromane / Romance

Aaaah l’amour. This time, I nominated Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You (G: Ein Ganzes Halbes Jahr) and guess what? Something weird happened. It didn’t make it to the final round in the romance category but it made it to the final round in the novel category. And just so you know, Jojo Moyes is nominated twice in that category in the final round! Jup. The second novel being The Girl You Left Behind (G: Eine Handvoll Worte). So I couldn’t vote for her in that final round anymore. Sorry. And I had nothing left to vote for in romance either.

Erotik / Erotic Novels

Left that one to the experts. 😉

Historische Romane / Historical Fiction

Aaah I did it again 😉 ‘Cause you know, Life After Life is historical fiction. But, as nobody seems to like Kate Atkinson (these people really don’t know what the good stuff is), I voted for Liz Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things (G: Das Wesen der Dinge und der Liebe) in the final round.

Humor

I’m quite shocked but it seems like I don’t read much funny stuff.

Sachbuch und Ratgeber / Nonfiction

I can’t remember what book I nominated. It didn’t make it to the final round. 😦 I haven’t read any of the nominated books.

Bestes Hörbuch / Best Audio Book

I haven’t listened to an eligible audio book. But you have to go and listen to Miranda Hart’s Is It Just Me? It’s hilarious!

Bester Buchtitel / Best Book Title

I enjoyed this category. I didn’t need to know the books, I had something to think about and I chose a title that made it to the final round. Die Inneren Werte von Tanjas BH by Alex Haas. The title roughly translates to The Inner Values of Tanja’s Bra. I love it 😀

Bestes Buchcover / Best Book Cover

This one is tough but great. As I was already in a wintry mood, I originally nominated the cover of Alexi Zentner’s Touch. Unfortunately it isn’t there anymore so I had to find something else in the final round. I decided on Titus Müller’s Der Schneekristallforscher.

Beliebtester LovelyBooks Autor / Most Popular LovelyBooks Author

A very nice category but I don’t feel qualified to vote here. 🙂

As you can see, there is a lot to vote for. If you don’t speak German this might have been a quick glimpse at German/Austrian voting culture, or at what I voted for in particular :D. I tried to make it as entertaining as possible.

If you found one or more of your favorites in the above categories, go vote for them and maybe you’re lucky and they win. Just click the picture below or click on the categories above.

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On Friday, November 29 Lovelybooks will announce the winners of this year’s Lovelybooks Leserpreis awards! Who will they be?