Iš nuomšiko gyvenimo
by Gendrutis Morkūnas
This one is the last book written by the author (1960 – 2009). In 2010, the book was granted the Best Children`s Book of the Year award. Rightfully so.
A strange book, this one is. It is difficult if not impossible to figure out whether the story is funny or scary. Some of the situations and opinions are funny indeed, but things depicted are scary. Ugly, at times.
The story is told by a child living at a Home. None of the inmates of the Home can remember their parents; some are not sure if they ever had any parents. Children like that must have been blown into this world by some strange wind, or maybe brought by a homeless dog. Or something…
Regular children, and many a grown-up as well, call the inmates Leaseshiters, because they are leased to do certain jobs. The littluns scare pigeons away from the city plaza and protect flower-beds in the park from digging cats. Bigger ones walk dogs and weed, or run to and fro inside supermarket buildings to make a pleasant draught when the weather is hot. The gifted ones are dressed up and brought to supermarkets by a pair of “parents” to loudly cry for this thing or that, so that other children might notice and start demanding the particular thing to be bought for them as well. And so on.
No leaseshitter can be adopted. The children at the Home find that strange, as they have heard some people offer good money for them. Good for the Home, no? Well, no. Matter is, the money paid for the adopted children goes straight to the Owners of the Home, but those working at the Home get paid for numbers: the more the inmates, the better the wages.
The narrator is a boy taken on lease by a lady to be “the big brother” to her little sonny and to help her gain a suit at law. She has kidnapped her own son from her ex-husband, and now she needs another child to appear as witness and testify on behalf of her, telling all concerned what a wonderful loving mother she is…
The narrative is simple, the narrator tells the story without emotion. I suppose this makes the book even more funny… or even more scary…
The book is written in Lithuanian and is well worth translating. The more so as this one should be not very difficult to translate.