Brunström’s island taxi put Helga ashore on a June evening. She greeted them quietly and solemnly as if at a funeral. Helga was still short, but she had grown in girth. Her face bore an expression of reserved obstinacy. They walked up to the cottage, where a fish soup stood ready on the stove, and had a hard time getting a conversation started. Helga did not want to unpack. ‘Tomorrow,’ she said. ‘Tomorrow is Her birthday.’
In the tent, Jonna observed that Helga had brought an awful lot of luggage.
‘Yes,’ Mari said. ‘Let’s read for a while.’
The cat came in to go to bed.
—from Tove Jansson’s Fair Play. Today would have been Jansson’s 98th birthday (she died in 2001) and we wanted to celebrate with this example of her typically laconic and detached prose. Jansson is most famous for her children’s illustrated Moomin books, of which there is now a theme park called Moomin World in Naantali, Finland, but also wrote books for adults. NYRB Classics has so far published three of these—The Summer Book, Fair Play, and The True Deceiver—and has one, The Sculptor’s Daughter, in the works for the Fall 2013 season. If you want more information on Tove check out this amazing website on her, in particular we recommend you look at the Klovharu Island page, which is the inspiration behind The Summer Book, one of NYRB Classics most beloved books.