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2002:2 Issue

The 2002:2 issue completes twenty years of publication. We present extracts from works by August Prize winners Mikael Niemi and Torbjörn Flygt, some poems from Niklas Rådström's return to poetry in 2000, and an extract from Åke Smedberg's departure into the world of crime writing. Our factual articles include features on the Gothenburg Book Fair and Network North, as well as our regular Book Shelf selection of reviews.
Mikael Niemi— from Rock Music in Vittula
transl. Laurie Thompson
Mikael Niemi’s ribald and rollicking novel Populärmusik från Vittula took Sweden by storm when it was published by Norstedts in 2000, and won the prestigious August Prize. Depicting the childhood and youth of a small boy from the far north of Sweden where most people speak Tornedalen Finnish at home, and regard southern Sweden as very much a foreign country, it is based on the author’s own experiences. Hilarious set pieces are punctuated by flashes of poetry and surreal flights of fancy as Niemi conjures up a setting and a life-style based on his home village of Pajala, way up inside the Arctic Circle.
pointer.gif (913 bytes) Laurie Thompson's translation of Chapter 6 of Rock Music in Vittula
Niklas Rådström — Poems
transl. Laura A Wideburg
Niklas Rådström, born in 1953, is best known for his novels and screenplays; but he made his debut as a poet in 1975. His poetry collection Dikter kring Sandro della Quercias liv, which came out in 1979, established his place in the Swedish literary world. His collection Om att komma tillbaka till dikten (Returning to Poetry), published in 2000, signaled a return to poetry in more ways than one. These mature poems are inexpressibly beautiful with a foundation in the real world of rocks and rivers, blood and breath. There is a sympathy here for the human condition, a sympathy without sentimentality, always alert to the frailty of that which cannot last.
Torbjörn Flygt — from Underdog
transl. Peter Graves
Torbjörn Flygt’s novel Underdog was southern Sweden’s answer to Mikael Niemi’s Rock Music from Vittula: the latter won the August Prize in 2000, and Underdog won it in 2001. Niemi’s novel was an account of growing up in the 60s and 70s in the far north of Sweden, while Flygt’s told the story of childhood and youth in the far south of Sweden in the 1970s and 80s. The narrator in Flygt’s book is the boy in question, but looking back as a disillusioned middle-aged man. Acknowledging the influence of Roddy Doyle (in his Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha), Flygt has written a book that encapsulates the period not merely as seen from a Swedish perspective, but from a European point of view. His language is peppered with not only Malmö dialect, but also English words and phrases: his hero wears the same clothes and listens to the same pop music as his contemporaries throughout Europe did. Underdog was first published in Stockholm by Norstedts in 2001. Our extract about school dinners will no doubt strike a chord in many an individual who endured school dinners in the 1970s, no matter which country one cares to name...
Åke Smedberg— from The disappearances
transl. Neil Smith
Åke Smedberg made his debut as a poet in 1974, and did not publish any prose works until eleven years later; since then he has written several successful novels and collections of short stories, but Försvinnanden (The Disappearances, Bonniers, 2001) is his first crime novel. Smedberg comes from near Sundsvall in the north of Sweden, and The Disappearances is set in the neighbouring province of Jämtland. It is an impressive debut in which violent action combines with the painstaking unravelling of a complicated and intriguing mystery.
Henning Koch — www.si.se
Henning Koch introduces the range of services for writers, translators and academics made available on the Swedish Institute website.
Iris Schwanck — Network North
Iris Schwanck, head of the Finnish Literature Information Centre, presents an outline of the events which took place in 2002 under the auspices of the Network North project, which was established by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2001 to promote the Nordic cultures in the British Isles, especially Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Bok och bibliotek:
focus on the Gothenburg Book Fair
Laurie Thompson presents an account of the 18th Gothenburg Book Fair, held 19-22 September 2002, and Sarah Death focuses on the translators who were in the spotlight this year.