How Reality Crumbles

Halfway through Karin Tidbeck’s new novel Amatka, a woman named Vanja begins an office job. She spends her first day paddling through a sea of paperwork, filing page after page of documents attesting to the most mundane developments in the lives of those around her—births, deaths, educational milestones, retirements. When she returns home, her hands are pale from the labor. “That night, she had a completely normal dream: she sorted forms,” Tidbeck writes.

In any other narrative, this...

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