After the Sun, the first collection of stories by the Danish writer Jonas Eika, has won a raft of prizes across Scandinavia. It’s a strange book that both compels and repulses.
The best of the stories, ‘Alvin’, features an IT consultant who is recruited by a stranger into the world of derivatives trading. Eika is confident in his depiction of this remote and intangible world, which contrasts with the erotic massages the men give each other and the lingering smell of eucalyptus on their skin. At times, Eika’s turns of phrase are rich and beautiful: in ‘Bad Mexican Dog’, where beach boys in Mexico cater to tourists while transforming into prawns, Cancún has ‘a sweet, heavy, electric smell of thunder and sweat’.
Other stories – particularly ‘Me, Rory and Aurora’ – lurch into a surrealism that feels oddly disjointed and unearned. There is also an insistence on the grotesque throughout the collection – a pool full of semen looks like ‘milky eggs with veins’, orifices bleed as a result of