Notes/First Impressions: Thomas Olde Heuvelt – The Day the World Turned Upside Down (trs. Lia Belt)

The Day The World Turned Upside Down at Lightspeed Magazine. 10367 Words, so a really quick read. Don’t take me at my word—read it yourself.

Another one that I thought was clearly very good but didn’t have any particular resonance with me. The macro/micro/nanocosm conceit is clever and I could see where the author was going with it, but it just didn’t sweep me off my feet with it. I should ask some of those who did love it what they thought was so great.

I did like the old women, who I initially imagined as being Fates or Norns, or at least fulfilling a similar role. Much more interesting than Toby, who could have been the protagonist of a Marco Borsato song. Perhaps that’s the problem: the idea of breakups-as-the-apocalypse has been thoroughly ruined for me. It goes without saying that the comparison is a bit insulting to the story, which is a good deal better and more artful than that, but still. Something like that gnaws atcha, you know.

And perhaps I should read it in the original Dutch! That option is open to me. I thought that for a non-native speaker, Lia Belt did a good job translating Olde Heuvelt’s story into English, but if I’d been the editor, there would have been one or two phrases I’d have had questions about, and one of those was very early on, taking me out of the story a bit. Unlike with Ken Liu’s work on the Best Novel candidate, there are no translator’s notes, but I did not have the impression that preserving the Dutchness of the story was foremost in Belt’s mind, or that it was a desirable approach for this story, whose setting is deliberately kept unspecified.

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