The Art of Waiting: Tove Jansson’s Moominvalley in November

A masterpiece of children’s literature about grief, friendship, human difference, and the art of waiting.

Will Buckingham

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Photo by Antti Pääkkönen on Unsplash

It is a story where nothing happens. Nothing other than waiting, and hope, and friendship, and the fear of living in a world we only partly understand, and a sense that life could be somehow different, if we could only work out how, or could drum up the courage to change things.

Tove Jansson’s Moominvalley in November was published in Swedish in 1970. In the original Swedish, it was called Sent i november, or “Late in November.” It was the last of Jansson’s books about the Moomins—a little family of round-snouted trolls who lived in a remote valley.

At the centre of Jansson’s Moomin books stands the Moominhouse, the bustling hub of a loose-knit community of strange creatures: adopted family members, fleeting visitors, wandering philosophers and troublesome hangers-on.

The cover of the Sort of Books edition of Moominvalley in November. © Sort Of Books.

Sometime around my final year in elementary school, I became entranced by Jansson’s Moomin books. The universe about which Jansson wrote felt immediately familiar…

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Will Buckingham

Writer & philosopher. PhD. Stories & ideas to make the world a better place. HELLO, STRANGER (Granta 2021): BBC R4 Book of the Week. Twitter @willbuckingham