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Rebell med frusna fötter
(Rebel With Frozen Feet)
Wahlström & Widstrand, 2002. ISBN: 9146182004
Reviewed by Sarah Death in SBR 2003:1
The unconventional first-person narrator of this funny and quirky novel is Stella Björk, a far-from-typical student at the Stockholm School of Economics and Business Administration. The reason Stella suffers from cold feet is that she finds an open roof the place most conducive to constructive thought. She first set out to read theology in the hallowed precincts of Uppsala, where she perceived herself and her peers as an intricate network of narrow, winding paths. Finding herself in something of an existential crisis, she decided “I might as well study Mammon as God while I try to discover the meaning of it all,” and so she transferred to the city and the School of Economics, where the people turned out to be “more like straight motorways”. Her scorn for the School’s prevailing ethic – career ambition, worship of commercial success and profit fixation – leads her to team up with a few-like minded students of both sexes who hope their marginal position and vivid imaginations will help them through. In the hothouse atmosphere of endless corporate hospitality (hardly a day goes by without a “free” lunch) and obsessive computer-gazing by tycoons-to-be scanning the money markets, Stella and her friends write provocative articles for the student newspaper and set up FAA (Föreningen för Anonyma Aktiemiss-brukare), or Share Addicts Anonymous, a spoof society which rapidly becomes a rallying point for a surprising number of disenchanted or disorientated individuals. Subsequently it takes only a few minor, possibly unconnected, incidences of vandalism and graffiti before the Principal starts to fear that the structure of his institution is seriously threatened. His bombastic edicts, however, merely inflame the situation, as the restive faction’s protest acquires a momentum of its own and turns into a full-scale student occupation, with all sorts of unlikely participants claiming (sheeplike, as Stella puts it) affiliation to the FAA.
Stella herself, uncomfortable with her instant celebrity status and miserable with boyfriend trouble, wanders off round Stockholm, gets attacked at an underground station, is “rescued” by a group of rough sleepers and ends up in hospital. Eventually, back in her microscopic student room, she listens to an absurd series of phone messages from all and sundry, including friends and supporters, the hostile School administration, the media, Lukas Moodysson wanting to make a film, and even a disgraced government minister. She is bemused that her little joke has blown up to such gigantic proportions and wonders, as she exits the back way to avoid a waiting police car, why life has to be so complicated.
Johanna Nilsson employs a fresh and youthful style in this unusual novel with its subversive little footnotes, appendices and other playful devices. Her critique of the status quo is considered and serious, but delivered with a light touch. Stella’s picaresque adventures among the dropouts and in the hands of the health service, while socially illuminating, are a slight distraction from what seems to be the main project here: an irreverent dissection of modern business culture.
Johanna Nilsson writes for both adults and young people and admits that this, her third adult novel, is autobiographical to some degree. There are now in fact plans for a film of the book, directed by Ulf Malmros.
Also by Johanna Nilsson
Other reviews by Sarah Death
- Ellen Mattson, Tornet och fåglarna (The Tower and the Birds). Reviewed in SBR 2018:1.
- Therese Bohman, Aftonland (Eventide). Reviewed in SBR 2017:1.
- Ellen Mattson, Sommarleken (The Summer Game). Reviewed in SBR 2016:2.
- Jerker Virdborg, Skyddsrummet Luxgatan (The Lux Street Bunker). Reviewed in SBR 2016:1.
- Agneta Pleijel, Spådomen: en flickas memoarer (The Prophecy: Memoirs of a Girl). Reviewed in SBR 2015:2.
- Aino Trosell, Min grav är din. Krimineller II (My Grave is Yours. Criminelles II). Reviewed in SBR 2015:1.
- Mats Kempe, Det jag redan minns. En roman i 16 noveller (What I Already Remember. A Novel in 16 Short Stories). Reviewed in SBR 2014:2.
- Bodil Malmsten, Och ett skepp med sju segel och femti kanoner ska försvinna med mig (And a Ship with Seven Sails and Fifty Cannons Will Disappear with Me). Reviewed in SBR 2014:1.
- Ulla-Lena Lundberg, Is (Ice). Reviewed in SBR 2013:S.
- Karin Alvtegen, Fjärilseffekten (The Butterfly Effect). Reviewed in SBR 2013:2.
- Marie Norin, vit vit (white white). Reviewed in SBR 2013:1.
- Peter Handberg, Skuggor (Shadows). Reviewed in SBR 2012:2.
- Håkan Nesser, Himmel över London (Skies over London). Reviewed in SBR 2012:1.
- Liselott Willén, Ingenstans under himlen (No Other Name Under Heaven). Reviewed in SBR 2011:2.
- Harriet Löwenhjelm, Samlade dikter. Med forörd och kommentarer av Boel Hackman (Collected Poems. With Foreword and Commentaries by Boel Hackman). Reviewed in SBR 2011:2.
- Therese Bohman, Den drunknade (Drowned). Reviewed in SBR 2011:1.
- Carola Sandbacka, Under kriget (During the War). Reviewed in SBR 2011:1.
- Susanne Ringell, Vattnen (The Waters). Reviewed in SBR 2011:1.
- Anne Swärd, Till sista andetaget (Breathless). Reviewed in SBR 2010:2.
- Käbi Laretei, Vart tog all denna kärlek vägen? (Where Did All That Love Go?). Reviewed in SBR 2010:2.
- Aris Fioretos, Den siste greken (The Last Greek). Reviewed in SBR 2010:1.
- Jerker Virdborg, Kall feber (Cold Fever). Reviewed in SBR 2010:1.
- Henrik Nilsson, Den falske vännen (The False Friend). Reviewed in SBR 2009:2.
- Majgull Axelsson, Is och vatten, vatten och is (Ice and Water, Water and Ice). Reviewed in SBR 2009:2.
- Katarina Mazetti, Mitt liv som pingvin (My Life as a Penguin). Reviewed in SBR 2009:2.
- Ellen Mattson, Glädjestranden (The Joyous Shore). Reviewed in SBR 2009:1.
- Carina Burman, Hästen från porten: ett österländskt ävertyr (The Ottoman Horse: An Eastern Adventure). Reviewed in SBR 2009:1.
- Peter Kihlgård, Kicki & Lasse. Reviewed in SBR 2008:2.
- Göran Sahlberg, När tiden tog slut (When Time Was No More). Reviewed in SBR 2008:2.
- Inger Edelfeldt, Hemligt ansikte (Secret Face). Reviewed in SBR 2008:1.
- Åsa Linderborg, Mig äger ingen (Nobody Owns Me). Reviewed in SBR 2008:1.
- Jessica Kolterjahn, Ut ur skuggan (Out of the Shadow). Reviewed in SBR 2008:1.
- Niklas Rådström, Gästen (The Guest). Reviewed in SBR 2007:2.
- Anne Swärd, Kvicksand (Quicksand). Reviewed in SBR 2007:2.
- Susanna Alakoski, Svinalängorna (The Pigsties). Reviewed in SBR 2007:2.
- Ann Granhammer, Den indianska krassens blickande (The Look of the Nasturtium). Reviewed in SBR 2007:1.
- Liza Marklund, Nobels testamente (Nobel's Last Will and Testament). Reviewed in SBR 2007:1.
- Alexander Ahndoril, Regissören (The Director). Reviewed in SBR 2007:1.
- Lotta Lundberg, Skynda, kom och se (Roll up, Roll up). Reviewed in SBR 2006:2.
- Inger Edelfeldt, Finns det liv på Mars? (Is There Life on Mars?). Reviewed in SBR 2006:1.
- Solja Krapu, Mogen för skrubben (Ready for the Cupboard). Reviewed in SBR 2006:1.
- Jerker Virdborg, Försvinnarna: en efterforskning (The Disappearers: An Investigation). Reviewed in SBR 2005:2.
- Anna-Karin Palm, Herrgården (The Manor House). Reviewed in SBR 2005:2.
- Sven Lindqvist, Terra Nullius: En resa genom ingens land (Terra Nullius: A Journey through No-One's Land). Reviewed in SBR 2005:2.
- Carina Burman, Babylons gatar: Ett Londonmysterium (The Streets of Babylon: A London Mystery). Reviewed in SBR 2005:1.
- Ellen Mattson, Splendorville. Reviewed in SBR 2005:1.
- Jacqueline Karp, Sudden Maraschinos. Reviewed in SBR 2005:1.
- Inger Edelfeldt, Svarta lådan (Black Box). Reviewed in SBR 2005:1.
- Marie Peterson, Du tror du vet allting (You Think You Know It All). Reviewed in SBR 2004:2.
- Inger Edelfeldt, Efter angelus (After Angelus). Reviewed in SBR 2004:2.
- Katarina Mazetti, Tarzans tårar (Tarzan's Tears). Reviewed in SBR 2004:2.
- Fredrika Runeberg, Receptbok (Recipe Book). Reviewed in SBR 2004:1.
- Kerstin Ekman, Skraplotter (Scratchcards). Reviewed in SBR 2004:1.
- Various Authors, .DOC (.DOC). Reviewed in SBR 2003:2.
- Sven Olov Karlsson, Italienaren (The Italian). Reviewed in SBR 2003:2.
- Johanna Nilsson, Konsten att vara Ela (The Art of Being Ela). Reviewed in SBR 2003:2.
- Unni Drougge, Lutherska badet (The Lutheran Baths). Reviewed in SBR 2003:2.
- Gerda Antti, Livet skriver kapitel (Life Writes its Chapters). Reviewed in SBR 2003:1.
- Anna Ehn, Man ska vara tyst när man önskar (Make a Silent Wish). Reviewed in SBR 2003:1.
- Jerker Virdborg, Landhöjning två centimeter per natt (Land levels rising, two centimetres a night). Reviewed in SBR 2002:2.
- Inger Edelfeldt, Riktig kärlek (Real Love). Reviewed in SBR 2002:2.
- Kerstin Ekman, Sista rompan (The Last String). Reviewed in SBR 2002:2.
- Åke Edwardson, Himlen är en plats på jorden (Heaven is a Place on Earth). Reviewed in SBR 2002:1.
- Torbjörn Flygt, Underdog. Reviewed in SBR 2002:1.
- Thomas Kanger, Första stenen (The First Stone). Reviewed in SBR 2001:2.
- Carina Burman, Islandet (The Ice Land). Reviewed in SBR 2001:2.
- Barbara Voors, Sömnlös (Sleepless). Reviewed in SBR 2001:2.
- Elsie Johansson, Nancy (Nancy). Reviewed in SBR 2001:1.
- Eva Claeson (ed), Metamorphoses, Journal of the Five Colleges for Literary Translation: Special Issue on Swedish Literature, Spring 2000, vol. 8 no. 1. Reviewed in SBR 2000:2.
- Anna Lindegren, Orola. Reviewed in SBR 2000:2.
- Kerstin Ekman, Urminnes tecken (Signs of Time Immemorial). Reviewed in SBR 2000:2.
- Inger Edelfeldt, Det hemliga namnet (The Secret Name). Reviewed in SBR 2000:1.
- Kerstin Ekman, Guds barmhärtighet (God's Mercy). Reviewed in SBR 2000:1.
- Anna-Karin Palm, Lekplats (Playground). Reviewed in SBR 2000:1.
- Oline Stig, Ryggen fri (Open Line of Retreat). Reviewed in SBR 2000:1.
- Carina Burman, Cromwells huvud: antropologisk komedi (Cromwell's Head: an Anthropological Comedy). Reviewed in SBR 1999:1.
- Inger Edelfeldt, Salt (Salt). Reviewed in SBR 1999:1.
- Agneta Pleijel, En vinter i Stockholm (One Winter in Stockholm). Reviewed in SBR 1997:2.
- Christina Doctare, När man väntar sig en man: Ansikte mot ansikte med kriget (When You Were Expecting a Man). Reviewed in SBR 1997:2.
- Kerstin Ekman, Gör mig levande igen (Make Me Live Again). Reviewed in SBR 1996:2.
- Heidi van Born, En sida av himlen (One Side of Heaven). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
Other reviews in SBR 2003:1
- Gerda Antti, Livet skriver kapitel (Life Writes its Chapters). Reviewed by Sarah Death.
- Majgull Axelsson, En stad av slott (A City of Castles). Reviewed by Linda Schenck.
- Ernst Brunner, Fukta din aska. C M Bellmans liv från början till slut (Moisten Your Mortal Ashes. C M Bellman's Life from Beginning to End). Reviewed by Birgitta Thompson.
- Stewe Claeson, Rönndruvan glöder (The Rowan's Cluster Glows). Reviewed by Charles Harrison-Wallace.
- Stig Claesson, Efter oss syndafloden (Après nous le déluge). Reviewed by Henning Koch.
- Åke Edwardson, Segel av sten (Sails of Stone). Reviewed by Irene Scobbie.
- Anna Ehn, Man ska vara tyst när man önskar (Make a Silent Wish). Reviewed by Sarah Death.
- Per Gunnar Evander, Plötsligt medan dimman lättar (Suddenly While the Mist is Lifting). Reviewed by Rick McGregor.
- Theodor Kallifatides, Den sjätte pasageraren (The Sixth Passenger). Reviewed by Peter Linton.
- Maaret Koskinen, I begynnelsen var ordet: Ingmar Bergman och hans tidiga författarskap (In the Beginning Was the Word: Ingmar Bergman and his early writings). Reviewed by Annika Lindskog.
- Björn Larsson, Den sanna berättelsen om Inga Andersson (The True Story of Inga Andersson). Reviewed by Tom Geddes.
- Ulla-Lena Lundberg, Marsipansoldaten (The Marzipan Soldier). Reviewed by Silvester Mazzarella.
- Henning Mankell, Innan frosten (Before the Frost). Reviewed by Laurie Thompson.
- Jan Myrdal, Gubbsjuka. Reviewed by Eivor Martinus.
- Cilla Neumann, Dem oss skyldiga äro (Those Who Trespass Against Us). Reviewed by Linda Schenck.
- Håkan Nesser, Kära Agnes! (Dear Agnes!). Reviewed by Stig Olsson.
- Elisabeth Rynell, Till Mervas (To Mervas). Reviewed by Irene Scobbie.
- Niklas Rådström, Kvartett (Quartet). Reviewed by Anne Born.
- Friedrich Strindberg, Under jorden i Berlin (Underground in Berlin). Reviewed by Eivor Martinus.
- Jerker Virdborg, Svart krabba (Black Crab). Reviewed by Stig Olsson.
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