May 23, 2022 Roses and Potatoes, 2022

A collage novel

The main theme of the bilingual (Lithuanian and English) collage novel “Roses and Potatoes” is happiness. But the author Vaiva Grainytė examines this phenomenon from a different perspective than normal – intellectually and ironically, playfully and phantasmagorically deconstructing the stereotypical concept of happiness embedded in contemporary culture. 

In a world which has ground to a halt due to the pandemic, the novel’s main protagonists and allegorical figures each seek happiness, or reflect on it or affirm it, in their own particular way: Davis in Canada, agonising over his articles, Vika living in isolation, brothers connected by calculations and genetic tests, a woman suffering from cancer, a mouse searching for a morsel to eat, an owl disregarding ancient theories of warmth, a virus looking for a more spacious place to live, and Denmark nominated as one of the happiest countries of the world.

The fragments of the characters’ everyday lives – letters, dreams, diary extracts, social media posts, alter egopassages – are all creatively combined with the rhetoric of essays and articles, and with topical issues, and juxtaposed with cultural and historical intertexts and knowledge of sociology, psychology, zoology, and phrenology. All this intrigue – a surrealist mosaic of miniatures of happiness – is permeated by themes on the fringes of melancholy: loneliness, burnout, forebodings of disaster, the diktat of conventional norms, and the longing for closeness. 

Translated by: Karla Gruodis Edited by: Jeremy Hill Design: Zigmantas Butautis
Format / pages: paperback / 324 pages
ISBN: 9786094795688
Publisher: Baltos lankos
Year: 2022

International order: 

Read an excerpt translated into English here.