28 Dec / The Winners by Fredrik Backman, translated by Neil Smith [in Booklist]
Fredrik Backman writes with a signature rhythm: a little here, a bit more there, something of this person then that person, a tease about what will happen, warnings about what can’t. The result is a resonant symphony enhanced by the stupendous Marin Ireland, who thankfully returns to Beartown as anointed cipher.
The story here “shouldn’t take long to tell,” Backman insists, “it starts right here and ends in less than two weeks, and how much can happen in two hockey towns during that time? Not much, obviously.” Oh, what understatement. Ireland embarks on an epic journey to conclude Backman’s trilogy with satisfying sighs, plenty of tears, and maybe a wee bit of hope for humanity.
The sudden death of local Bearskin bar owner Ramona brings home Maya and Benji, two lost souls who escaped after “the scandal” (when Kevin raped Maya and Beartown self-destructed). Ruth, whose truth was never believed, also returns – as virtually anonymous ashes – pushing her left-behind brother toward revenge against her local killers. Implosions prove inevitable.
Ireland miraculously ensures that every voice is memorably heard; in addition to the beloved main cast, Ireland is equally magnificent with the smaller and no less important players including brilliant Zackell, mysterious Lars, prodigious Alicia, surprised Big City, and all the others. Backman admittedly meanders on occasion, but Ireland never misses a beat.
Review: “Media,” Booklist, November 1, 2022