A book about a national trauma

natterna-pa-moncheri

I don’t think this book will be translated to English therefore I will not write a review. But I will make a reflection.

In 1986 the prime minister of Sweden, Olof Palme, was shot to death on his way home from the cinema. There were no secret service men with him that night.  The prime minister and his wife just walked home through the city of Stockholm a cold evening in February. After the murder the country was in shock, including the police. Everything went wrong in the police investigation and the killer was never caught.

I looked forward to reading this book, I liked this author’s last book. I think a well written book about the Palme murder is a potential bestseller. Also, I understood that this writer is somewhat a geek about the Palme murder, so he would clearly be a good person to write this book about one of the prime suspects. Because it is a tragic story about a man who became known to the public as “the 33-year old man”.

This man was never prosecuted for the murder, but not cleared by the public and not by some policemen either. His life was never normal again after the accusations. And since the killer never was identified and no one was convicted for the crime this man, “the 33-year old”, was always a suspect in some people’s minds. He moved to the United States but was eventually killed by a former police officer.

This story could be an international bestseller. But this book will not. It is fragmented and a mix of facts and fantasy with many references to different policemen in the investigation team. I find the book difficult to read, and yet I am old enough to remember the day it happened.

The Susan Effect – Peter Hoeg

effekten-av-susan

Peter Hoeg is a Danish writer well known for his book Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1994). I must admit I have not read that book, but I certainly will now.

The Susan Effect is a mix of criticism of a corrupt society and a breathtaking thriller with a touch of Mission Impossible. Susan is a middle aged successful physicist married to a music composer and they have two talented teenagers. The family has returned to Denmark after facing serious criminal allegations in India. Susan has powerful political friends and she wants to clear herself and her family by using her influence on the right people. Susan has a paranormal gift, the Susan Effect, in her presence people become very honest and feel an urge to speak up and reveal their secrets. This, of course, leads to many absurd situations but can also be used in a clever way when Susan and her family seeks the truth about a secret Future commission.

(first English release in August 2017)

 

The Susan Effect
Peter Hoeg

Toplist svenska bestsellers

Top lists are fun to make: top restaurants, top hotels, the best music hits of the century or decade. The possibilities of making top lists are countless.

I decided to make a top list of the books reviewed in this blog.

Books with a 5-star rating:

  1. One of Us – Åsne Seierstad
  2. The Underground Girls of Kabul – Jenny Nordberg
  3. The Bomb Maker and his Woman – Leif GW Persson (not yet translated)
  4. Wilful Disregard – Lena Andersson

Åsne Seierstad is Norwegian, the other three authors are Swedish.

Only number 3 is Classic Nordic Noir, but all of them are good Reading.

What books are on your top list?

bombmakaren och hans kvinnautan personligt ansvaren av ossthe-underground-girls-of-kabul

Nobel Prize not for bestsellers?

55782f3ec6c35d0c00835933_orignal_24-ne_45prizeceremony_overview2In Sweden the Nobel Prize is a big thing.

During one week in October all the laureates are presented, and then the prize ceremony is on December 10.

The task of selecting the recipient of the Prize was entrusted to the Swedish Academy by Nobel in his will. The first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901. This last Thursday the person who should receive the Nobel Prize in literature was to be announced, at 1 p.m. sharp. The announcement is an old tradition in itself.

I turned on my radio a couple of minutes to one, and waited. I could hear the secretary of the Swedish Academy address the gathered press before she revealed the name of this year’s recipient: Bob Dylan.

I think the journalists were just as surprised as I was. The Nobel Prize in literature is seldom awarded to a bestselling author. This year it is awarded to a well-known, bestselling musician.

The country is divided, is this right? or not?

 

photo: © Nobel Media AB

 

 

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All – Jonas Jonasson

hitman-anders-and-the-meaning-of-it-all

Jonas Jonasson is a talented writer and his book The 100- Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared was crazy, and amazing. This book is more crazy than amazing in my opinion.

This is a story about Three odd characters who meet in a shabby motel and start a criminal business together. They are: a former female priest, recently fired from her church, the ruined grandson of an ex-millionaire working as a receptionist, and Killer-Anders, a murderer newly released from prison.

The former priest is a smart spin doctor and creates media attention for all their crazy activities. And she also manage to enrage the community of gangsters in Sweden.

The plot is clever and there are several unexpected turns and twist, which of course, is Jonasson’s hallmark. Also, I appreciate the satire of the Swedish society, authorities and the press.

But still I am not caught by the book, it is too much of a comic strip to me.

(First release in English April 2016)

 

 

 

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All
Jonas Jonasson

How to pronounce

The last couple of years I have read many books from the Middle East, like The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini), The Underground Girls of Kabul (Jenny Nordberg), Girls of Riyadh (Rajaa Alsanea), to mention a few. In these books the names of cities and people are much more exotic to me than names of places in  the US or England which I am  more familiar with. When I read novels from far away places I often find myself trying to pronounce the different names. Probably with poor results, which I will never know!

So I was thinking maybe someone would appreciate to hear the pronunciation of some of the Swedish names in the books I review,

This is not a unique idea, I have seen it on different web sites, but still it can be a useful addition to my reviews.

Here is how to pronounce “Sandhamn”, the island in Viveca Sten’s stories.

You will find more sound files on the page Listen.

Everything I don’t remember – Jonas Hassen Khemiri

everything-i-dont-rememberus

This book stayed in my mind a long time after reading it. Jonas Hassen Khemiri writes about the friction between ethnic Swedes and other ethnic groups in Sweden. But he also writes about love and friendship. And in this book about compassion.

Samuel dies in a car crash, suicide or accident? An anonymous writer decides to find out more about Samuels life.

He is a bureaucrat at the Migration Agency, when Samuel’s grandmother moves to a retirement home, Samuel and his girlfriend Laide secretly turn her house into a safe house for immigrant women. This arrangement slowly gets out of hand, and Samuel’s roommate Vandad, who is a junkie and a troublemaker, is asked to guard the place.

The book is difficult to read, it is a puzzle of interviews with Samuel’s friends and neighbors. They tell their different stories of Samuel’s last time in life before the car crash. When the paragraphs are short and the perspectives shifts quickly I find it difficult to know who’s voice it is, and I must stop and think. This is probably a good thing!

The story leaves me with many thoughts about what compassion is and for what reason we want to do good.

(First English release July 2016)

 

Everything I don't remember
Jonas Hassen Khemiri

A nation of writers

dvsWe have become a nation of writers. In today’s newspaper I read that one of every three Swedes has a desire to write a book. And according to the same article, author is rated third on a list of dream jobs for Swedish women. I used to be one of them.

Writing classes are soon as common as yoga classes. Imagine all the hours  spent on writing stories that no one reads, because few are chosen to be published.  But maybe it is no different from marathon runners running mile after mile to practice without the spectators they have on a race? Writing is practice for the brain, and distraction from your ordinary life. Just like running and yoga.

But it also keeps up the hope of being published one day, and becoming a superstar.

This is a fact, the many successful writers from Sweden and the other Nordic countries has changed our perception of a writer. Our image of an author is no longer a lone wolf with a glass of whiskey in his hand, it is more of a celebrity. A person we can watch on talk shows and in Let’s Dance.

Ultimatum – Anders de la Motte

ultimatumA corps is found in the Baltic Sea close to a resort owned by the government party of Sweden. The police start a murder investigation. This is the second book in a series of independent stories with detective inspector Julia Gabrielsson. It is a story about the murder investigation and the intrigues in the police organization, driven by prestige and ambition. In a parallel track there is a story of political intrigues where an ambitious minister is striving for the highest office of government.

It is a well written book and the reader is kept in suspense until the last page, but I feel that the intrigues and the conning both within the police organization and behind the politician and within his family is too much.

(First Swedish paperback release May 2016)

Ultimatum
Anders de la Motte

Something is rotten – Linda Olsson & Thomas Sainsbury

Something is rotten

This is the first book in the new Matakana- series, written by Linda Olsson and Thomas Sainsbury under the pseudonym Adam Sarafis.

I young man is found dead in a library, and the police claims it is suicide. But a friend of the dead man contacts Sam Hallberg, an unhappy former terrorist expert, and persuades him to investigate the death. Together with a journalist Sam Hallberg follows the track of a book manuscript written by the dead man. Their investigation leads them to powerful people and unexpected dark secrets driven by greed and political ambition.

Linda Olsson in an excellent writer, and this book is no exception, she handles this new genre well. The characters are complex and slightly dysfunctional, and the dialog is condensed. Sam Hallberg has a difficult past, which can be explored in coming books in the Matakana-series.

(First English release May 2015)

 

 

Something is rotten
Adam Sarafis