Review: Nikolski – Nicolas Dickner

My first review, the pressure is on…

This weekend was filled with earl grey tea and “Nikolski” by Nicolas Dickner. If you’re from Canada and you listen to CBC, you might already know that this book was a contender on CBC’s literary competition called Canada Reads. Basically, it’s a battle of the books and each day one of the five books get kicked off and Nicolas Dickner made it to the end this year and took home the reigning title of Canada Reads, meaning that his book is the book that all Canadians should be reading and after reading it, I whole heartedly agree.

 We’re introduced to three characters, one unnamed young man, Joyce and Noah. Dickner interweaves these three characters stories sparingly but successfully. We learn the back stories of each character which provides insight into why these individuals are each so complex.

 Each character ends up in Montreal, Quebec (where Dickner resides) arriving in the year 1989 hoping to create a better life for themselves. Noah is there to pursue his goal of studying archeology, specifically the archeological dig of garbage. In the novel he explains,
“As a rule, archaeologists don’t take much interest in nomads. The more a population travels, the fewer traces it leaves behind. They prefer to study civilizations that settle down, that build cities and produce large amounts of garbage. Garbage teaches us more than infrastructures, buildings or monuments. Garbage reveals what everything else tries to hide”.

 Joyce arrives after she’s run away from the boring days of high school and is there to pusue her life long dream to become a pirate. Ironically enough, she spends a majority of her time digging through garbage to collect discarded computer parts, in order to gain illegal access to the internet (aka piracy).

 It is a clever and humourous read filled with lots of different ideas that are woven into a collection of 290 pages. I suggest to read it on a day when you can give it lots of attention, as it should be read closely so you don’t miss anything.


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