Kallocain, Best Novel 1941, Part 3 of 5

Here is the third of the five Best Novel 1941 Finalists. We will be presenting them in alphabetical order during this week.

Kallocain by Karin Boye

What are your thoughts on this novel? Likes and dislikes? Does it deserve the Hugo?

2 thoughts on “Kallocain, Best Novel 1941, Part 3 of 5”

  1. (Too darned hot here to think, yesterday. Will get round to T.H. White eventually. That one is worth looking at.)

    Anyway, so is Kallocain, with the proviso that, damn it all, it’s only half a book. It’s half of a really good book, mind (which makes it worse). The militaristic, totalitarian state is well realised, and the problems faced by protagonist Leo Kall are immediate and involving. Kall’s problem, essentially, is that the truth drug he’s created produced too much honesty for the society he’s living in – there’s a very telling scene where he uses the drug to probe the motives of the volunteer test subject he’s experimenting on. One can envisage the way Kall is bound, eventually, to shoot himself in the foot, to trap himself with the effectiveness of his own creation, ultimately leading to his downfall….

    Unfortunately, one can only envisage this, because the book actually ends with enemy paratroopers dropping out of the sky, capturing Kall and dragging him off to a prison camp, The End.

    It should have been a really good book. Instead, it’s an effectively unfinished really good book. I find that incredibly frustrating!


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