One of the things I enjoy most about reading books set all over the globe is making comparisons between the worlds being depicted and the world(s) I am familiar with. As I read Liza Marklund’s Red Wolf I was struck particularly by a couple of things that I couldn’t find a sensible way of incorporating into my review but thought I’d discuss anyway.
A difference between my world and Annika’s that had my jaw on the ground was a small passage where Annika is chasing down a lead and attends a government office and asks to see the register of correspondence for one the government ministers which she was legally entitled to see. That day! In Australia you have to submit a request in writing to see the equivalent register, wait 30 days for a response and if your request is agreed to (never a sure thing) you are likely to receive a copy of the document with a swag of blacked out content as the bureaucrats will have redacted anything remotely sensitive.
A surprising similarity had to do with the environment. At first (or even second) thought I don’t imagine anyone would think of Sweden and Australia as being terribly similar . But when I read this passage where Annika is driving through the remote northern part of the country
To her surprise she emerged onto a wide motorway, she didn’t remember that at all. Her surprise only grew as the motorway went on and on without her seeing a single other vehicle on the road. The feeling of surreal desolation took a stranglehold on her neck; she had to struggle to breathe normally. Was this some sort of joke? Had reality slid away from her? Was this the road to hell?
I couldn’t help but think of the remote driving I have done here in Australia, thinking very similar thoughts as Annika does in this passage. Though in my case it’s normally stinking hot and in her case it was freezing cold I still felt a real connection to that passage. There is no feeling quite like driving alone on a bitumen (i.e. civilised) road and seeing no sign of other life. No cars. No trucks. No houses. No grazing animals. Nothing. For what feels like forever.
Can you think of a book you’ve read where you’ve noticed something really different from your own world?
How about a similarity that you weren’t expecting?