My grateful thanks to Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre for sending me a copy of Tuomas Kyrö’s Happy Days of the Grump for review.
Happy Days of the Grump was published by Manilla, an imprint of Bonnier Zaffre, on 21st September 2017 and is available for purchase here.
Happy Days of the Grump
Maybe there’s a little grump in all of us . . .
The Grump, at eighty years old, is more focused on death than life; building his own coffin and keen to write his will in ink – who can trust technology, after all? – he knows that everything was much better in the old days.
But when the Grump finds himself in hospital after falling down his basement steps, his life passes before his eyes. Thinking of the people closest to him and reflecting on the changes society has brought about, he realises he must come to terms with the cards life has dealt him.
With warm humour and a wry look at family and relationships, Happy Days of the Grump is sure to bring a smile to even the grumpiest among us.
My review of Happy Days of the Grump
The Grump is building his own coffin and wants to write his will in ink on paper, but life doesn’t always allow a person to do what they want!
Initially I found the translation of Happy Days of the Grump slightly clunky and it took me a few pages to acclimatise to the style, especially as I wasn’t familiar with many of the cultural aspects of Finnish life so I think I missed some of the nuances. Once I got used to the style, however, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I appreciated the lack of speech marks for the Grump’s thoughts, and frequently his speech, as it placed me firmly inside his head and allowed me to understand him more.
The characterisation was highly empathetic and made me feel slightly ashamed of my sometimes slightly dismissive attitude to others, especially when aspects of the Grump’s character are gradually revealed. I ended up feeling that the Grump had every right to fulfil his wishes to orchestrate his own funeral. Even the more minor characters such as the Grump’s wife and daughter-in-law felt vivid and real.
Given that Happy Days of the Grump is a book more about a man’s attitudes and thoughts than anything else, I was surprised by the plot. There’s quite a bit happening so that the whole concept of the novel remains fresh and interesting throughout.
The most enjoyable aspect of Happy Days of the Grump was the fact that it made me laugh aloud, which I rarely do when reading, and nod frantically in agreement right the way through. I loved the fact that the Grump says what so many of us think – and that he doesn’t always realise he’s saying aloud what he’s thinking.
Happy Days of the Grump is a book that takes a while to attune to but that rewards the reader with a life affirming set of guidelines that we would all do well to live by. I heartily recommend it.
About Tuomas Kyrö
Tuomas Kyrö is a Finnish novelist, columnist, painter, drama, and writer and comic book writer. Kyrö was awarded with the Kalevi Jäntti Prize in 2005 and the Young Aleksis 2006 Prize. His work was nominated for the Finlandia Prize in 2005. Tuomas Kyrö was the first fellow of Eeva Joenpello’s Writers’ House in 2005-2009. Today he lives with his family in Janakkala.