I’ve been asked once or twice about Swedish literature. Most of the stuff I like isn’t translated into english, the stream flows the other way, but a few things have gotten through. This is not all of it but a few books in no particular order.
1. The gravity of love by Sara Stridsberg. Stridsberg has a sharp pen, she didn’t get ask to join the Swedish academy for nothing. In this she manages to tell the story of a father who never was just that, but one who spends time in a mental institution and about a child, who like all children, accepts and interprets anything as love. Heartbreaking but also warm and understanding.
2.Bret Easton Ellis and the other dog by Lina Wolff. Full disclosure: I have not read this book. I have read anther of hers and people tell me this is also good. If nothing else Bret Easton Ellis and other dogs is a smashing title.
3. Blackwater by Kerstin Ekman. This novel still brings it. It’s a crime novel that is also the story of a small village in transition. About who belongs and who doesn’t and about trust. I don’t know about the translation but the Swedish original is written in a beautiful language.
4. The Expedition by Bea Uusma. I’m so happy that this books has been translated as it is one I really love. In her twenties Uusma read a book about the Andrée expedition to try to reach the North pole, an expedition that ended in the death of all members for reasons that have never been properly explained. After many years of thinking and reading about it she decided to investigate full time and find out the truth. A book about obsession and the power of hope. This is non-fiction and award winning at that.
5. The summer book by Tove Jansson. I’ve recommended this book many times, and bought copies for friends abroad. Jansson is close to my heart because of Moomin but also this which I reread every year. As a child I didn’t see the darkness in it, at this point in life I think I see nothing but. Small scenes that together paint the picture of a summer and a life.
6. The visit of the royal physician. Elegant and intimate this historical drama from the Danish court in the 18th century tells the story of a king that may or may not have lost his marbles, a doctor that is supposed to help him but ends up taking his job and his wife and a woman that finds love and freedom in the most unexpected place.
7. The price of water in Finisterre. The much missed, but utterly unique, voice of Malmsteen comes through loud and clear in this her first book about her life in France. One day she had had enough of Sweden and decided to up sticks and move. Her life in Bretagne didn’t end up like she expected but she wrote about it lovingly. It became a blogg and then several books that became collected musings on life,culture and getting older. This first book was more prosaic in a very good way. She did became all of Sweden’s favorite ex-pat I think. Some went on pilgrimage to where she lived.