10 January 2018

Book Review: Let the Northern Lights Erase your Name

If your ideal day includes curling up with a good book, either an e-book or a traditional book, than you likely live in the Pacific Northwest, or more specifically Seattle. According to Amazon, Seattle is the most well-read city in the nation in 2015 and again in 2016. Personally speaking, I read a lot. Mostly non-fiction, but occasionally fiction. The last book I read was 'Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name' as an ebook from my local library.

Having read it in one day, I consider it to be a quick read. The book was published in 2007 by Ecco and has 687 reviews on GoodReads.com. The setting is in Finland, but beyond that I'll let you experience for yourself.

Good Reads: Description
"Far, far north, sitting above the Arctic Circle, Lapland is a world made of ice; a place both foreign and perilous that unexpectedly lures New Yorker Clarissa Iverton from what had finally become a comfortable life. At 14, her mother disappeared. Now 28, and just days after the death of her father, Clarissa discovers that he wasn't her father after all, and the only clues to her true heritage are a world away. Abandoning her fiancé, she flies to Helsinki, seeking to uncover the secrets her mother kept for so long. While piecing together the fragments of her mother's mysterious past, Clarissa is led to the Sami, Lapland's native "reindeer people," who dwell in a stark and frozen landscape, under the northern lights. It is there that she must summon the courage to confront an unbearable truth, and the violent act that ties her to this ancient people."

About the Author: Vendela Vida

Her writing has been described as spare, elegant and haunting.

Born on September 6, 1971 in San Francisco, CA, the daughter of Paul & Inger Vida. Her father Paul descends from a Hungarian family, and her mother Inger is Swedish born. Vendela is an American novelist, journalist, and editor; married to writer Dave Eggers, she lives in the Bay Area. She is the author of five books, and a writing teacher. Here are some more links about this author. 

A POEM ... which inspired the novel, with the same name.

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name 

Barren Rock Plains
ringed by tall mountains
The Inca Warrior snatches
a lizard
and consumes it alive

Days and nights
time runs out like shoofly liquor
from the bottoms of empty bottles
blurry talk and lashing words
clenched fists strike
batter and strike

Come with me
to my lavvo
my soot-stained tent
let us light 
a fire
and gaze steadily
into the flames

Dressed in a wedding gown
of netted sinews
and spider's web
I step 
into your canoe
at the clouds' edge
your coal-dark eyes flash
you push me from the shore
alone, I travel
far, far
to what which is not

May the Northern Lights
your name
engulf it in flames
that flicker
as intensely
as all the silk skirts
you have touched

The sun 
that has been away
for so long
I sprinkle rock crystals
and glass beads
from a leather pouch
tanned with alder bark
I sacrifice 
to the birch tree

The bridal crown
of fluttering silk ribbons
and signs of the moon
I hang in the tree

The yoik-king and the wolf-singer
come with me
The ptarmigans are shell-white
with black-tipped wings

From Krigeren, Elskeren og Kovnen/Mu Apache Rahkesvuokta, 1994
Translated by Edi Thorstensson

*Somby is a common Sami surname.

The name has most likely been made as a Norwegian language adapted variation based on the Sami town of Sombio (or Sompio) in the Kemi region of north Finland. The name has probably also risen from the personal male name like Sompia, Sompi, Sombie, Sombe, Sombby, Sombi, Sumby and Sobbe. The name has been used as a family name written as Sombio, Sompio, Sombi and Somby. (see more)

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