"... everyone has the right to be complete in their own life, even the lame and the blind, or, with a little help, those with a crater in their face. Where would we be without a little help?"
When the Finns burn down and flee from the small town of Suomussalmi before the Russians come in November 1939, one man stays behind. The hewer, Timmo Vatanen Timmo, has lived in Suomussalmi all his life and cannot live anywhere else. And one man has to defend the ruins and do the right thing, even though it seems like an impossible task and will do nothing to help him to make friends.
The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles is a gripping existential novel about seven men who have to carry the load together, about wood and warmth and a pair of ladies shoes and about the words, "thank you."
Shortlisted for the IMPAC award in 2009.
'Once again Roy Jacobsen has delivered a beautiful piece of writing.'
'Roy Jacobsen is a fantastic story teller. He has a simple and unpretentious style; sensitive without being sentimental, masculine without showing off ... Not to mention his ability to create great psychological portraits.'
'Roy Jacobsen’s new novel is economically cut, enigmatic and ambiguous. And utterly well written.'
'Roy Jacobsen has written a thin novel with regard to number of pages. As for the content, this is one of the most pregnant novels I remember having read.'
'Jacobsen has an almost magical ability to draw up a believable and original sketch of a character within a couple of lines, so that one remembers this character, and never has any doubts about it. All seems real and authentic.'
DAG OG TID
'At the end of The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles the main character thinks to himself that one day he will find someone who can tell his story. He could hardly hope for a better story teller than Roy Jacobsen.'
'Being one of our best prose writers, his books are a delight to read. The same goes for his mini novel The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles.'
'... a powerful and well-written account of an unfamiliar episode in the Second World War.'
TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT, UK
'The electric power in Jacobsen’s rugged narrative style is generated by what happens beneath the surface, the way feelings and thoughts diverge and converge, and words and actions come into being. Jacobsen’s motive force comes from the same place: all of a sudden something has happened, something unclear, almost mysterious, yet full of meaning, not to say fateful, and the perspective has slightly shifted. It is a suggestive effect which always makes me both confused and uneasy, and that is precisely how great literature should creep up on you. Read the book. It’s an order. Now I have to go out, chop wood, get warm and feel like a hero.'
SVENSKA DAGBLADET, Sweden
'The new novel The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles ... is a thought-provoking saga about wood, war and male friendship. … And amid all the freezing temperatures, which cause tears to go black and the human heart to petrify, there is a rare narrative tale of warmth, a thought-provoking saga about wood and war and male friendship, about how human compassion can exist through the fury of battle and express itself in everyday actions and in an economy of words. It is about the greatness of the individual – and the smallness. … In his restrained, fastidious style, without the slightest hint of sentimentality, Jacobsen draws a portrait of the intelligent (on the sly) oddball who is as moving as he is enigmatic.'
'The universality of Jacobsen’s novel is self-evident as we all at some time will see our greatness flicker and die in the winds of time. Jacobsen has simply made the image of this drama so much clearer; allowed it to stand out in black against the white forests.'
DAGENS NYHETER, Sweden
'This beautiful little novel is a poetic take on an intriguing bit of history.'
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, Australia