three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
12-Sept-Oct-2004
user_rating: 
0
A-TrollAngel, a young gay photographer, is on his way home when he discovers a gang of teens beating up a small hairy troll. Taking the sick troll (officially the endangered species Felipithecus trollius) into his home, Angel soon finds his life on a wild ride of change. There are the basics: What do you feed a troll? How do you care for one who needs antibiotics? Then there’s the fact that the troll (called Pessi after a famous troll in a children’s book) seems to be emanating pheromones that make Angel irresistible to men everywhere. With a troll now in his life, Angel finds himself with new connections—and new responsibilities.
Grove Press. 278 pages. $12.
ISBN: 0802141293

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"This book is a brilliant and dark parable about the fluid boundaries between human and animal. … Such talent is not to be taken for granted." Kevin O’Kelley

San Diego Union-Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"Blood and bone mixes with unique humor and wit. Troll kicks Life of Pi out of the best-summer-reading boat. Survival of the fittest at its best." Jackie Jones

USA Today 4 of 5 Stars
"Troll: A Love Story might best be described as a punk version of The Hobbit. … Although it exploits the conventions of the fantasy genre, it clearly transcends them." Ellen Emery Heltzel

Village Voice 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Troll would be Ibsen’s The Wild Duck—if the duck were the main love interest. Granted, Ibsen’s doomed waterfowl never ended up in a pair of designer jeans, but both creatures highlight the uneasy role of feral nature trapped within civilized humanity." Izzy Grinspan

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"All these overlapping narrative voices nicely underscore the moral of Sinsalo’s ingeniously constructed fable: The stuff of ancient legend shadows with rather unnerving precision the course of unloosed postmodern desire." Chris Lehmann

Dallas Morning News 1.5 of 5 Stars
"Troll never gets off the ground in terms of believability. … It’s a shame, because a plot that’s roughly the equivalent of, say, finding Bigfoot as a toddler and raising him to wear jeans, doesn’t come anywhere close to the best of either Finnish or Scandinavian literature." John Gamino

Critical Summary

Troll won the Finlandia Prize for the best novel published in Finland, and has garnered worldwide attention. Sinisalo draws upon Finnish folklore to create a sharp modern novel that explores the wild beast that lurks in each of us. The Washington Post reminds us, "[T]he runty dark creatures of our fairy tales are little more, symbolically speaking, than surrogates for our own darker urges." Though Pessi is the only truly feral creature, Angel and his friends all reveal their baser natures as well. While the main drama surrounds Angel and Pessi, a host of engaging characters populates the novel, including a Filipino mail-order bride. Sinisalo takes the stuff of fantasies and twists it into a sophisticated parable for the 21st century.