The Core of the Sun: Book summary and reviews of The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo

The Core of the Sun

by Johanna Sinisalo

The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo X
The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo
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Book Summary

From the author of the Finlandia Award-winning novel Troll: A Love Story, The Core of the Sun further cements Johanna Sinisalo's reputation as a master of literary speculative fiction and of her country's unique take on it, dubbed "Finnish weird."

Set in an alternative historical present, in a "eusistocracy" - an extreme welfare state that holds public health and social stability above all else, it follows a young woman whose growing addiction to illegal chili peppers leads her on an adventure into a world where love, sex, and free will are all controlled by the state.

The Eusistocratic Republic of Finland has bred a new human sub-species of receptive, submissive women, called eloi, for sex and procreation, while intelligent, independent women are relegated to menial labor and sterilized so that they do not carry on their "defective" line. Vanna, raised as an eloi but secretly intelligent, needs money to help her doll-like sister, who has disappeared. Vanna forms a friendship with a man named Jare, and they become involved in buying and selling a stimulant known to the Health Authority to be extremely dangerous: chili peppers. Then Jare comes across a strange religious cult in possession of the Core of the Sun, a chili so hot that it is rumored to cause hallucinations. Does this chili have effects that justify its prohibition? How did Finland turn into the North Korea of Europe? And will Vanna succeed in her quest to find her sister, or will her growing need to satisfy her chili addiction destroy her?

Johanna Sinisalo's tautly told story of fight and flight is also a feisty, between-the-lines social polemic - a witty, inventive, and fiendishly engaging read.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Smooth writing and nicely calibrated pacing ...[Sinisalo] ups the ante with well-paced and eerily fitting facts about the history of science, clever literary narrative, and complex characterization. This tale will appeal to dystopia lovers and fans of darkly offbeat suspense." - Booklist

"Starred Review. Meticulously imagined ... the novel creates an impressively detailed and extremely frightening world. Written with wit and grace ... Maintains an impressive grasp on plot and suspense, easily luring the reader into taking its characters, politics, and striking story to heart." - Kirkus

"[T]his is an unusual and fun story with a strong dose of social commentary. " - Publishers Weekly

"The plot points on reproduction will inevitably bring Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale to mind, but the narrator's funny, sad, punk voice could fit right in to the stories in Kelly Link's Get in Trouble and is as unforgettable." - Library Journal

"Johanna Sinisalo's best novel since the Finlandia Prize-winning Troll: A Love Story ... Her literary punch in the guts is delivered with skill and force." - Helsingin Sanomat (Finland)

"By making them into state laws, Sinisalo unveils the rules by which discrimination functions - and in doing so, makes them laughable." - Die Welt (Germany)

"An intoxicating book, sizzling to look at and as spicy as a hot pepper." - Weltexpress (Germany)

"Sinisalo creates a world so close, and yet so far, with small, often subtle twists .... [The Core of the Sun] is a fun, feminist, political novel - as tasty as a strawberry habanero chili sauce." - Deutschlandradio Kultur (Germany)

"Johanna Sinisalo's Core of the Sun is a vicious satire. A dark dystopian novel that is nonetheless filled with humor, and inspired in its language." - Die Rheinpfalz (Germany)

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Author Information

Johanna Sinisalo

Johanna Sinisalo is the author of the novels Troll: A Love Story, Birdbrain, and The Blood of Angels. Praised by readers and critics alike, she has won several literary prizes, among them the Finlandia Prize and the James Triptree, Jr. Award. Her works have been translated into nineteen languages. She lives in Finland.

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