Discover more from A Book For Ants: Bite-Sized Reviews of Snack-Sized Books
TERMUSH by Sven Holm
Translated by Sylvia Clayton
Hats off to Ella Griffiths, classics editor at Faber, for her curation of the relatively new Faber Editions series. Time and again she has smashed it out of the park with her resuscitation of criminally-forgotten classics. Every book is an instant buy for me. Needless to say, then, that Termush did not disappoint. First published back in 1967, this Danish novella is a crystalline distillation of Cold War paranoia that has, almost sixty years later, turned out to be eerily prescient.
In the wake of some catastrophic nuclear event, a group of survivors have holed themselves up at a once-fancy hotel called Termush. It is both oasis and fortress, where those inside live in relative luxury while fending off “outsiders”. Unsure of what lies beyond their walls, a scouting party is sent out but nothing is heard back and rumours begin to swirl. There are incursions, bodies are found on the steps; the tension grows. To that end, I was reminded more of Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barabarians or The Tartar Steppe by Buzzati than any work of spec-fic or sci-fi. And then I thought of the current state of the world. Holm was a damn prophet.
Termush by Sven Holm (Tr. Sylvia Clayton)
Faber, 2023 (Orig. 1967)