Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto


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She is frighteningly competent, American. But the longer she stays, the more she is dragged into the patients' diseases. Despite daily bicycle rides and rigorous attention to detail, it gets harder to maintain her professional distance, "paradoxically above and yet in service to the other women. Chapman brings us further under the skin of her characters than we would normally care to go. And yet it is all the unspoken things that move the novel forward.

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There is so much we don't know about what really goes on in the hospital especially at night. There is so much we don't know about the lives of these unreliable characters. We do know there is a kind of cultish alchemy; some kind of magic. And we know that the doctor is perfecting and experimenting with various treatments: When a patient dies after a surgery that Peter performs, we can feel her comrades' fury, just under the ice.

Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto : A Novel - viwacylu.tk

They go out into the night after she dies to watch a comet; in their nightgowns with their coats thrown over: Two of the ladies bring out binoculars from coat pockets, and these are passed from hand to hand so that all can look at the comet above, visible now and moving so slowly that it seems motionless in the dark sky. As motionless as the persuasively scarred face of the bright, nearly full moon. Something terrible happens at Suvanto, but I can't tell you what it is. You can know that afterward routine sews over the ripped lives. The institution itself goes on, a monument to hubris; the arrogance of medicine.

The black trees beyond the northwestern corner are turning silver again under a renewed freeze. The first-time novelist takes us inside a Finnish institution for patients with female troubles.

Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman

Something goes horribly wrong, but the institution goes on. Who knows where it will lead her next?

Salter Reynolds is a writer living in Los Angeles. In both, the single-sex set-up results in something surprising, and wholly original.


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This book should be bottled and sold at the chemist's, the perfect antidote to austerity and job loss — reading it feels like a rest cure. There is comfort to be found in all this order, hygiene, quiet routine and companionship, the resigned acceptance of the female body, and the constant, watchful presence of attendants who bring food and treat unnameable ailments.

The food itself is a little dubious a plethora of prunes characterises Christmas, while rutabaga is mentioned more than once ; the ailments, at least at first, don't seem severe. Some of the women are here merely because they hate their husbands, or their husbands hate them. But the novel is elegantly suspended in a torpor of the present moment, not so much in the dramas that preceded it, and we are invited to relax with these women, artificially removed from convention and connection.


  1. Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman - viwacylu.tk book review?
  2. Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman.
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  5. This safe zone is ruled by the exacting requirements of the hospital, the landscape, the recreational activities of saunas, snowy walks in the woods, reluctant dance lessons after dinner, moisturising, knitting, and in particular the smell of everything. Despite her questionable decision to restrict it mainly to the present tense, Chapman's writing is beautifully deft, subtle and succinct, displaying an astonishing sureness of touch. This skittish ghost of a bygone world comes fully formed to the page. How scared we are of illness, Chapman suggests.

    What a hell of a lot of time we devote to detecting decay, apportioning disgust and trying to avert mortality, always on guard against miasmas of the unhealed, the incontinent, the cankerous.

    Book review: 'Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto' by Maile Chapman

    These worries are kept somewhat at bay on the upper floor of the hospital, where the rest-cure patients hang out, but other floors are subject to male doctors and their nasty surgical procedures, and here "something might occasionally gather, a stale problem in the air. Within the tedium, insomnia and other upsets on the top floor, all the pranks, rivalries and petty complaints, rank emotions brew. One of the doctors wants to banish the menopausal crones luxuriating in their slow recoveries, in favour of the punctual capitalist productivity of a maternity ward. An uncomprehending outsider, his power resides in the male world beyond, theoretically the real world.

    Only a certain amount of accommodation can be made for him before something snaps. But the most memorable creation here is Julia, an obstreperous patient who arrives covered in rubies, makeup and furs, under which she has long borne untold horrors of bodily disintegration.

    Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto
    Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto
    Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto
    Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto
    Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto
    Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto
    Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto
    Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto
    Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto

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