Karin Tidbeck’s Short Story “Who is Arvid Pekon?” Brought to Film

Swedish Author Karin Tidbeck has a new collection out called Jagannath. Comprised of thirteen stories, an introduction by Elizabeth Hand, and the author’s afterword, Jagannath has been receiving some impressive endorsements and promises to be a rewarding read.

Now comes word that one of the stories in the collection (“Who is Arvid Pekon?”) had been made into a short film by Patrik Eriksson.

Press release and movie stills after the jump.

Acclaimed Swedish Author Karin Tidbeck’s Surreal, Cross-Genre Vision Brought to Film

Karin Tidbeck’s short story collection Jagannath (Cheeky Frawg Books) has garnered world-class praise from the likes of Ursula K. Le Guin and China Miéville, with Gary K. Wolfe in Locus calling Tidbeck “one of the most distinctive new voices in short fiction since Margo Lanagan.” Now a story from the collection has been made into a nine-minute short film.

Who is Arvid Pekon? is a retro-futuristic bureaucrat thriller that features famous Polish actor Andrzej Mastalerz as Arvid Pekon and legendary Polish actress Anna Seniuk as Subject 3426. “Listening, approving, connecting. One day, the switch board operator starts getting phone calls questioning his very existence.

The film closely follows the trajectory of the short story, with its slow decent into Kafkaesque situations, including a proliferation of strange insects, juxtaposed against the ever more absurd and uncanny requests from those calling the switchboard. Tidbeck recently saw the film and called it “absolutely gorgeous in a thoroughly weird, Polish noir way.”

Given the cross-genre qualities of Tidbeck’s fiction, it’s no surprise that Le Guin said of Jagannath that she had “never read anything like it,” also calling the collection “Unclassifiable. Quietly, intelligently, unutterably strange…and ominous. And funny. And mysteriously tender. These are wonderful stories.” According to Mieville, “Tidbeck, with her impossible harmonies, is a vital voice.” Other major writers, like Karen Joy Fowler and Caitlin R. Kiernan also have praised Jagannath, and, in her introduction, Elizabeth Hand writes that Tidbeck’s stories “blew me away.”

Released November 1, Jagannath is getting major national media attention, including from NPR-and one story has already been taken for a year’s best anthology. This follows on the heels of critical acclaim in Tidbeck’s native Sweden, where she has won a prestigious literary grant and has a novel out from Sweden’s largest publisher. A graduate of the Clarion Writers Workshop (2010), Tidbeck’s short fiction has been appearing in English-language publications like Unstuck, Weird Tales, and Shimmer for the past couple of years.

Who is Arvid Pekon? is the directing debut of Patrik Eriksson, student at the world famous Polish National Film School, PWSFTViT, with alumni including Roman Polanski, Krzysztof Kie?lowski, and Andrzej Wajda. The film was shot in ?ód? / Poland and a sneak peek (subtitled) will be given at the Jagannath book release party at the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto this coming weekend. The official premiere will take place at film festivals in 2013.