Meanwhile on a Roof in Chinatown by Ingrid Rudefors
It’s the early 1990s. Alice, a middle-aged Swedish professor, stuffs her husband’s ties into the dishwasher and leaves their pleasant suburban villa outside of Stockholm, suitcase in hand, on a blind exodus towards a city she knows only from glossy travel brochures.
Meanwhile, her daughter Babylonia is perched on the roof of her shabby Chinatown apartment, agonizing over how how to break up with her depressive Hungarian boyfriend.
Alice does make it to Babylonia’s apartment, but gets locked out on the roof without keys or money. This begins a picaresque journey, where she descends into an alternative Manhattan of after-hours clubs, gangsters, booze and roulette. Throughout her 48-hour odyssey, she engages with a quirky assortment of strangers: the Dutch bartender Amanda, Mafia boss Sal, aging transvestites and Chinese men from southern Sweden… not to mention the mysterious Charles, who seems so comfortable and yet is connected to things that are distinctly uncomfortable.
And there is another key player here–1990s New York, before mobile phones and coffee shops spun their web around the world.
Alice’s two-day journey through Manhattan’s underground breaks down her habitual defenses as she is assaulted by new experiences. Now there are no safe, familiar choices. To find her way, she has to draw on her younger self, someone who created a child with a stranger at a music festival.
That child is grown and has her own issues now. As her mother is dancing in the currents of the big city, Babylonia’s own feet feel even more stuck in place. Something has got to give…
The author’s strong dramatic sense binds their dual stories into a rich adventure, full of deftly drawn details, quirky angles and improbably touching characters.
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Meanwhile on a Roof in Chinatown is the first novel by Ingrid Rudefors, published in Sweden by Isaberg förlag in 2011. Read a little bit about how this book got translated by Odella Schattin thanks to a Kickstarter campaign.
Ingrid Rudefors is passionate about bringing quality Swedish writing to a wider audience. In partnership with Triangle Ranch Communications, a micro-press based in the Seattle area, she hopes to bring other Swedish non-crime novels to an English-language readership. See the Triangle Ranch Worldwide page for more details.