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Tainaron: Mail from Another City (1985)

by Leena Krohn

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
265599,094 (3.84)1 / 20
TAINARON: Mail From Another City is the first American publication by the internationally acclaimed Finnish author, Leena Krohn. TAINARON consists of a series of letters sent beyond the sea from a city of insects. TAINARON is a book of changes. It speaks of metamorphoses that test all of nature from a flea to a star, from stone and grass to a human. The same irresistible force that gives us birth, also kills us. Nominated for the prestigious Finlandia prize, this is the perfect introduction to the work of a modern fabulist.… (more)
  1. 40
    Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (ari.joki)
    ari.joki: An allegory of the human condition by revealing one facet at a time through presenting a foreign, strange city with foreign, strange inhabitants.
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» See also 20 mentions

English (4)  Finnish (1)  All languages (5)
Showing 4 of 4
Thirty letters sent to an old lover by a rather foolish woman who has come to live in a city of insects for reasons she has forgotten. As with most epistolary works, it takes a while to build. Several letters in the middle to end begin to suggest larger themes. However, full enlightenment never really seems to dawn on the protagonist (although there are hints here and there that she is either changing or losing her mind), so the end, which is undoubtedly the right one, seems unsupported by what has gone before. Loved Longhorn though. 3.5 stars. ( )
  amyotheramy | May 11, 2021 |
First, the copy I have is of a small hardback book that’s a delight to hold with an eye-catching slip cover, and drawings dotted throughout; a fast read at only 124 pages. The story from this Finnish prize-winning author is a fantasy told in a series of letters written by a foreign visitor and sent from an insect city. There’s no plot. We never know the recipient of these letters and only get to know the writer obliquely. I’ve heard the character writing the letters is female, but I never picked up on that and saw the letter writer as male, lost and adrift, having travelled to Tainaron seeking a promise that may never be fulfilled unless it’s found within. The most obvious nuance is one of change. There’s something visceral in the narrative, making this a book with an amorphous emotional impact. I’m sure many will find this nonsensical, bizarre, maybe pointless, yet there’s something memorable and almost poetic about the book. And, like a poem, will have significance for some, be meaningless to others. ( )
1 vote SharonMariaBidwell | Jun 16, 2020 |
Strange and mesmerizing. Unsure what to call it - it's not exactly a novel, but it's not a collection of short stores either. Calvino's Invisible cities comes to mind, but this feels mote personal and internal. ( )
  Jannes | Mar 17, 2019 |
Tainaron was recommended by Jeff VanderMeer -- in fact, he had a special deal where he was selling copies of this book along with one of his (the Select Fire Remix of Secret Lives).

Leena Krohn has been writing for years, and the book includes a long list of publications. Tainaron was originally published in Finland in 1985, and seems to be one of the few books by Krohn to be translated into English. That may change, as Tainaron was nominated for both the World Fantasy Award and the International Horror Guild Award in 2005.

I can definitely see why Jeff likes this book, which is a series of letters written from an unknown correspondent to an unknown recipient, possibly a former lover. The letters describe the writer's daily experiences in the city of Tainaron, a colorful, bustling town whose inhabitants (save, perhaps, for the writer) are various sorts of insects. Early on, there's an implication that the flowers and inhabitants have grown larger, although the opposite is just as believable.

As time passes, the writer grows both more and less comfortable in Tainaron. Some creatures die, others change their opinions of the writer, and with the approach of winter, most go into hibernation or build cocoons in which they will metamorphose into new beings, not quite like their past selves.

Tainaron is somewhat reminiscent of VanderMeer's Ambergris stories, in presenting a detailed world whose odd details shock the reader into realizing they're not in Kansas any longer. If you like Jeff's work, Tainaron is worth checking out. ( )
4 vote cmc | Dec 24, 2006 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Krohn, Leenaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hawkins, HildiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krohn, InariIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Et ole paikassa vaan paikka sinussa. – Angelus Silesius
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Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Eliaalle, J. H. Fabrelle ja Kuningatarkimalaiselle huonekuntineen
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Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Kuinka unohtaisin kevään, jolloin teimme kävelyretkiä Yliopiston kasvitieteelliseen puutarhaan, kun täällä Tainaronissakin on sellainen puisto, laaja ja huolella hoidettu.
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TAINARON: Mail From Another City is the first American publication by the internationally acclaimed Finnish author, Leena Krohn. TAINARON consists of a series of letters sent beyond the sea from a city of insects. TAINARON is a book of changes. It speaks of metamorphoses that test all of nature from a flea to a star, from stone and grass to a human. The same irresistible force that gives us birth, also kills us. Nominated for the prestigious Finlandia prize, this is the perfect introduction to the work of a modern fabulist.

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