Book review – Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner

Nikolski”, one of this year’s Canada Reads selections, was wonderful book. I am, in fact, a little bit in love with it. It’s about three people who are, unbeknownst to them, connected and who, coincidentally, all end up in more or less the same part of Montreal. They all seem to be looking for themselves (figuring out who they are). And, they all had fairly interesting experiences in life (living on the road, living in a remote village, etc.). But, the author didn’t write about them as if they were awe inspiring people who had life changing events or who suddenly know where they belonged in the world. Everything was fairly subtle and laid back. It was as if the author was saying, “Life happened, this is how it happened, eventually things started to fall into place, and life will keep on happening after the last page.” In other words, the author took what could have been a really cheesy Hollywood story, and made it into a beautiful everyday story.

One interesting thing about the novel is that I discovered after reading it that everyone referred to the unnamed character (the only one who spoke in first person) as “he.” Knowing me, I missed, skimmed over, or forgot the clue(s) that he was a he. For some reason I thought of this character as female. Even at the end, when there was a suggestion that this character engaged in a little drunken nookie with a female character, I still thought of him as a her. I guess I identified with him enough to project my own gender on him.

I didn’t have to read this for my 101 things in 1001 days challenge (#47: I only challenged myself to read one of the Canada Reads 2010 selections), but I’m really glad that I did.

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