“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”
Nombeko, born into Soweto’s slums, uses her prodigious mathematical ability to rise out of the latrine sanitation management position she has achieved by age 14, and has the misfortune to be run over by a very drunk nuclear engineer the minute she leaves Soweto. South Africa of the 1970s being what it is, she finds herself alternately helping the engineer with his calculations, and scrubbing his floor. Escape comes in the form of a ticket to Sweden…
Much like The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared, the plot for this novel is more than slightly absurd. But that’s fine with me when it’s written as captivatingly as this. The various concepts of a person not existing, accidental creation of a 7th atomic bomb, Sweden’s deeply cautious politics – all feel like Jonassen is making little digs at the world, without taking himself too seriously. Full of incredible (seriously, unbelievable) coincidences and unfortunate events, it’s a captivating read.
Nombeko is a wonderful character, somewhat everygirlish but with occasional violent tendencies which amused me. She has the same improbably frequent ideas for getting out of scrapes (but the book wouldn’t be any fun if she wasn’t in scrapes and then didn’t get out of them). Holger One and Two couldn’t be more different, and Celestine and her potato-farming countess grandmother are a fabulous double act.
I would very definitely recommend this, particularly if you are stuck in Heathrow for four hours and then on a plane going to the wrong airport.
Additional information:Copy a gift from The Book Accumulator (well, I pressed this and another book into his hand and pointed him towards the tills) when we were killing time in Waterstones Piccadilly. Publisher: Fourth Estate, 432 paperback pages Order The Girl Who Saved the King of Swedenfrom Amazon* * this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting