Euphoria – Elin Cullhed
Suicide prompts shock, anger, sadness and many whys and what ifs. Not for the first time a writer has decided to inhabit the mind of a person in the last year of their life to see if the whys and what ifs can be answered (or, I guess, if not answered, successfully fictionalised). As the person in question is Sylvia Plath there’s much to ponder and hash through during her final year, and this is what Swedish writer Elin Cullhed attempts in Euphoria. Her ventriloquism is unerring as she rides the highs and lows of Sylvia’s manic and tumultuous thoughts and, among other things, writes about the exhilaration of creation, the downs of the fag end of marriage, the chaos of toddler loving/taming and the claustrophobia and snobbery of England. It’s edge of the seat stuff and written (and translated) in such a compelling manner you’re left turning pages even though you’re relentlessly heading into Plath’s last days. Cullhed’s Plath is locked in Liar Liar mode throughout which lightens the general mood somewhat. To live or to die, however, never far from Plath’s thoughts. She lists her reasons to live at the start of Euphoria but will these reasons be enough? As readers we know they won’t be, but they point to another future or maybe an ellipsis rather than a full-stop. It really didn’t have to end the way it did. Choices are shuffled, choices are made. What about her children? Her poetry and prose? Another day, a different choice? Maybe. Maybe not. Superbly translated by Jennifer Hayashida, Elin Cullhed’s Euphoria is a must read.
Euphoria – Elin Cullhed (translated by Jennifer Hayashida) publ. Canongate- £9.99