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Reviews highlights - recent gems in literary fiction

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Reviews highlights series

Recent Gems in Literary Fiction

This summer we are opening up our reviews archive to highlight some recent gems in Swedish-language literature, in lists curated by genre and age group. Whether your interest is in poetry or picture books, searing literature or spine-tingling thrillers, we hope that our reviews highlights will help you to discover something new.

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Image credit: Geran de Klerk on Unsplash.

Book cover of Välkommen till Amerika by Linda Boström Knausgård
Literary fiction

Välkommen till Amerika(Welcome to America)

by Linda Boström Knausgård, reviewed by Joanna Flower

Modernista, 2016, 91 pages.

Välkommen till Amerika is a modern-day Bildungsroman, at once an 11-year-old girl’s revolt against adolescence and a study in depression, written in prose so taut that the emotional and intellectual impact of the story lingers on long after the final page is turned.

Book cover of Ingen jämfört med dig by Jonas Brun
Literary fiction

Ingen jämfört med dig(Nobody Compared To You)

by Jonas Brun, reviewed by Andy Turner

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2018, 229 pages.

Jonas Brun’s latest novel spans a history that unites past and present, passions and intrigue, secrets and truth. His deceptively effortless and evocative prose entices us into an accelerating series of events, telling a disquieting and engrossing tale of psychological suspense along the way.

Literary fiction

Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar, I: Kärleken (Never Wipe Away Tears Without Gloves, I: Love)

by Jonas Gardell, reviewed by Agnes Broomé

Norstedts, 2012, 291 pages.

Torka aldrig tårar... shines a light on a shamefully ignored chapter of Sweden’s modern history with immeasurable sorrow and intense anger but also with warmth and love. If the next two parts of this trilogy bear out the promise of Love, we may all be in the presence of a new modern classic.

Book cover of Allt jag inte minns by Jonas Hassen Khemiri
literary fiction

Allt jag inte minns (Everything I Don't Remember)

by Jonas Hassen Khemiri, reviewed by Nichola Smalley

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2015, 334 pages.

In Everything I Don’t Remember, Khemiri effectively combines style, narrative and politics to produce a fascinating, moving and highly enjoyable novel that transcends its fictional form. It’s a revelation, very much deserving of the praise it has received from critics and the judges of the 2015 August Prize.

Book cover of Händelsehorisonten by Balsam Karam
Literary fiction

Händelsehorisonten(Event Horizon)

by Balsam Karam, reviewed by Alice E Olsson

Norstedts, 2018, 155 pages.

To say that Karam’s prose is poetic would be an understatement. With a lyricism entirely her own, she stretches grammar to its breaking point. Reading Händelsehorisonten is like stepping into another world – albeit one that feels unsettlingly like our own.

Book cover of Finna sig by Agnes Lidbeck
literary Fiction

Finna sig (Supporting Act)

by Agnes Lidbeck, reviewed by Janny Middelbeek-Oortgiesen

Norstedts, 2017, 201 pages.

I find it fascinating to see how the writer manages to create a layered protagonist and to make it clear that Anna’s passivity is actually an active choice. The title Finna sig - which means to comply, but also to find oneself’– neatly captures these aspects of the protagonist.

Book cover of Sommarleken
literary Fiction

Sommarleken (The Summer Game)

by Ellen Mattson, reviewed by Sarah Death

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2016, 233 pages.

Mattson takes the familiar children’s book trope of siblings removed from parental authority into new surroundings with potential for adventure and turns it into a real-life drama which, despite the glitter with which Sandra’s romantic eye imbues it, slowly, implacably, unfolds towards tragedy. With its explorations of both adolescence and old age, this is a novel with potentially very wide appeal.

Book cover of Jungfrustenen
Literary fiction

Jungfrustenen (The Maidenstone)

by Michael Mortimer, reviewed by Nichola Smalley

Norstedts, 2013, 505 pages.

It’s not often that I read a book capable of sweeping me off my feet and transporting me to another world while at the same time teaching me, in a very grounded way, things about the world I live in. But that’s just what Michael Mortimer’s novel Jungfrustenen does.

Book cover of Det vita huset i simpang
Literary fiction

Det vita huset i Simpang (The White House in Simpang)

by Hanna Nordenhök, reviewed by Janny Middelbeek-Oortgiesen

Norstedts, 2013, 197 pages.

The smells and climate of the tropical country, the sexual secrets of the grownups and the colonial circumstances are all brought to life in a very refined, precise and sensitive style. Det vita huset i Simpang is simply a suggestive and wonderful novel.

Book cover of Människan är den vackraste staden by Sami Said
Literary fiction

Människan är den vackraste staden(Man is the Most Beautiful City)

by Sami Said, reviewed by Alex Fleming

Natur & Kultur, 2018, 367 pages.

Sami Said’s third novel unfurls like a modern picaresque: written with swagger and verve, it serves up a mix of vignettes and longer sections on reliably unreliableSan Francisco’s life and misadventures through cities, islands, ghettos, gardens, and the odd branch of Western Union.

Book cover of Att föda ett barn by Kristina Sandberg
literary fiction

Att föda ett barn (Giving Birth)

by Kristina Sandberg, reviewed by Deborah Bragan-Turner

Norstedts, 2010, 488 pages.

Kristina Sandberg’s monumental trilogy about Maj Berglund, a housewife from the small town of Örnsköldsvik in Västernorrland, on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, is a tour de force. In a style that is both spare and intensely personal, the author tells the unseen, unspoken story of daily life for millions of women from the ’30s to the early ’70s – giving birth, caring for their families, and surviving at any cost.

Book cover of Laudatur by Peter Sandström
literary fiction

Laudatur (Autumn Apples)

by Peter Sandström, reviewed by Deborah Bragan-Turner

Kustantamo S&S, 2016, 240 pages.

This book is an antidote to the fast pace of modern life. It is to be read slowly, for pleasure to hear the subtlety, the gentle dialect, the restraint, the comedy and the heartbreak. It is to be savoured and relished, and it will remind you of the joy of reading.

Book cover of De utvalda by Steve Sem-Sandberg
literary Fiction

De utvalda (The Chosen Ones)

by Steve Sem-Sandberg, reviewed by Anna Paterson

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2014, 552 pages.

De utvalda is an exceptionally powerful fusion of great fiction and the moral challenges posed by historical record.

Book cover of Beckomberga – Ode till min familj

Beckomberga – Ode till min familj (The Gravity of Love – An Ode to My Family)

by Sara Stridsberg, reviewed by Kevin Halliwell

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2014, 355 pages.

Stridsberg takes the bare historical facts of a Swedish location and weaves them into something stark and yet hauntingly beautiful, where the darkness merges with the light unceasingly.

Book cover of Skugga och Svalka by Quynh Tran
Literary fiction

Skugga och svalka(Shade and Breeze)

by Quynh Tran, reviewed by Darcy Hurford

Norstedts, 2021, Förlaget, 2021, 259 pages.

‘Light, shadow. Ambiguity, clarity. Skugga och svalka is an absorbing novel with both shadows and beauty.’

Book cover of De polyglotta älskarna by Lina Wolff
literary Fiction

De polyglotta älskarna (The Polyglot Lovers)

by Lina Wolff, reviewed by Kevin Halliwell

Albert Bonniers förlag, 2016, 294 pages.

There is so much to take in, so much food for thought in this deep, multi- faceted novel that a single reading is perhaps insufficient. What is certain, however, is that in the wake of its triumph in Sweden, The Polyglot Lovers can look forward to its own polyglot future – and to a richly-deserved international success.