It has been ten years since the fatal tsunami struck the cost of Thailand. In ”9,3 på Richterskalan”, Andreas Norman reveals great flaws in utrikesdepIt has been ten years since the fatal tsunami struck the cost of Thailand. In ”9,3 på Richterskalan”, Andreas Norman reveals great flaws in utrikesdepartementets, the Ministry of foreign affairs, help efforts. The tone is critical. Norman was a young official in the Ministry's diplomat program 2004, and got his first mission in relation to the catastrophe, without experience and preparation. The officials' telephone numbers were inaccessible during Christmas and Norman was contacted since his name was on a list of people that had been on a previous school class journey.
During his time in Krabi he tries to understand the impossible. Small belongings as bracelets and bus tickets remind him of the fact that these people have recently been alive. The prose is beautiful and colorful, the content dark and horrible. The text transforms into something similar to a movie and one of the most affecting scenes is that when a man comes up and want help with transporting two plastic bags home to Sweden. In the bags are his dead, infant children.
Andreas Norman was in Krabi for a week. He describes a world where people break down from despair and sorrow, and how inadequate he feels. Officials within the Ministry, Räddningsverket and Rädda barnen tried to remain professional and objective. That was easier said then done. Some of them broke and was sent home.
Norman witnessed a Ministry that was waiting, not reacting, in the beginning of the crisis. They opposed proposals about help efforts. The management is mapped out and the result isn't pretty. It's an uncomfortable and unforgettable read. UD is described as a Ministry with a byreaucracy and hierarchy that complicated, delayed and almost prevented its purpose. No one was prepared for the catastrophe, but according to Norman, the Ministry was nearly paralyzed, almost incapable of acting. Lower officials reacted, but the Office culture, with its ideal of self control, prevented early moves.
One has to remember that this is one man's story. One man that was situated in the middle of the catastrophe. On the other hand, this is an important testimony - for the same reason. It is an account of someone that was in the actual place, and was a part of the practical work. This story isn't polished as the Ministry's formal statements, this is the catastrophe, experienced by a help worker.
When Norman went home after a week he wasn't sure about how to return to his normal life. He had changed. It was a strange feeling to disappear into his every day life again. He had got a glimpse of the life of unfortunate people. For them the loss is constantly present, regardless of what day of the year it is. This book isn't letting go of the reader when finished. It stays with you and reminds you of the people that died that day and their relatives....more
The Caliph, Vathek, and his mother, Carathis, are cruel and ruthless in their search for knowledge and supernatural powers. Listening to Giaour, who cThe Caliph, Vathek, and his mother, Carathis, are cruel and ruthless in their search for knowledge and supernatural powers. Listening to Giaour, who claims to be an Indian merchant and has earned Vathek's attention, they abandon their faith, Islam, to live in sin and murder innocent people to sacrifice to Giaour - who work for the Devil, Eblis, and whose name means blasphemer - to be able to achieve these powers. Of course, it's not that easy.
Written in 1786, by the English author William Beckford, "Vathek" is one of the first gothic novels. One might view the book as a moral tale, or just a fascinating story about abandoning reason and empathy to achieve a goal that perhaps is superfluous. At the same time, the negative view of thirst for knowledge - apart from the cruel crimes committed to achieve it - is interesting.
Being a great inspiration to many authors, the expectations might be high. Unfortunately, the book, which is only 120 pages, is a heavy read and the character development, except from the main characters - is almost non-existent, which makes it difficult to maintain interest....more
The Tunisian pitchman Muhammad Bouazizi started the Arabic revolution when setting fire to himself in december, 17th, 2010. A short time after, the prThe Tunisian pitchman Muhammad Bouazizi started the Arabic revolution when setting fire to himself in december, 17th, 2010. A short time after, the president of Tunisia resigned. In ”Det här är vår tid”, This is our time, thoughts, feelings and visions among the politicians and the population in the wake of the revolution are central - when the democracy fever has subsided and the anxiety begins.
Fanny Härgestam has followed three women in different political parties and a woman in the countryside, whose husband was shot during the revolution. Thus, the martyr widow, Amira, wonders if the revolution contributes to opportunities of a free life or destroy lives.
This is a book about the value of words during the eventful time when the future of Tunisia is taking shape. Three of the women Färgestam is portraying are working within politics. Mabrouka Mbarek, member of the middle party CPR, Meherzia Labidi, member of the Islamist Ennahda and Selma Mabrouk, member of the socialist party Ettakatol.
On the contrary to what one might believe about politics, it is a thriller. Wild discussions, demonstrations and two murder on members of the opposition are happening during the constitution writing. The most discussed questions are about religion's part in the constitution, and article 46, about women's rights. There is a constant struggle between the parties and the women have an admirable patience when the period is dragging on. They are brave and inspiring and do everything they can for a democratic future, while people are murdered for their opinions.
When the Islamic party, Ennahda, won the first free election in 2011, there were, according to the author, many people that worried about restricted women's rights, and now Ennahda and the opposition was going to write the constitution together. How would it turn out? Was it even possible to agree?
This is an important time of democracy building in the nation that began the Arabic revolution. Härgestam has interviewed many people inside the center of politics in the Bardo Palace and among the population outside, to be able to write from all perspectives. It is very thrilling....more
"Utvandrarna", "The Emigrants", was published 1949 and is the first in a tetralogy about the Swedish emigrants during the 1800's. The conditions for t"Utvandrarna", "The Emigrants", was published 1949 and is the first in a tetralogy about the Swedish emigrants during the 1800's. The conditions for the Swedish people back then were terrible, especially for the farmers. The ground was rocky and dry, nothing grew. The possibilities were very limited in the country-side. The men ended up with the same kind of work as their parents, often taking over their work on the farm, or becoming a farm boy somewhere else. The women were married to other farmers. Everyone fought against poverty and famine.
Karl Oskar and Kristina are fed up with their life in Småland and decide to embark on a small ship to Amerika, the mystical country where everything seems to be possible, and where there are no priests that decide what is right and wrong and you address everyone the same. Their opinions are without criticism. Amerika seems to be the perfekt place. The emigrants from Småland - Karl Oskar and Kristina, the young and curious Robert, the mistreated Arvid, the prostitute Ulrika and the religious Daniel, the latter belonging to "åkianerna", a group of a kind of puritanism - embark on the ship to Amerika. The crowded journey becomes a great challenge. It's interesting to be able to see the world from their perspective, their reflections of life and theories about the sea.
This is a glimpse of Swedish history. Many people have fought like these people for survival in a country with limited opportunities. The change Sweden has gone through in a hundred years is mind-blowing. When reading about priest's house calls examinations and the way farmers treated their workers, it's difficult to realize it's the same country as today. The hunger and poverty were wide-spread in the countryside. Everyone should think about and thank our ancestors for fighting so hard, it's through them we are living today....more
In "The Wall", Die Wand, a woman in Austria is isolated from the rest of the world. An invisible wall has materialized during the night and everyone oIn "The Wall", Die Wand, a woman in Austria is isolated from the rest of the world. An invisible wall has materialized during the night and everyone on the other side is dead.
The novel, first published 1963 in Austria and now translated again into Swedish, is a picture of the psyche of mankind. Bigger than the fight against famine, is the fight against depression. Haushofer explore loneliness in all its forms. Eventually, the woman learns to accept it as a form of solitude. Her name is never revealed, since it's irrelevant. A name is only necessary when talking about someone, and no one is going to talk about her. She is the only human being. A dog, a cat and a cow become her only consolation, her reason for living. They live in a mutual dependence, and form a community, a we, that seldom is described in literature.
The woman's life is a daily struggle, and there is no chapter divisions to enable the reader's breath. As much as her exterior is changing due to the hard work, her inner self is also going through a change. Her earlier every-day life seems shallow and meaningless, a slavery of capitalism. A civilization critique is a constant theme, and the human population is seen as a destructive force. Haushofer was borne in Austria in 1920, and studied in Vienna during the war. The lack of confidence when it comes to civilisation and the thought of the world as fragile can be explained through her witness of a downfall of a society. She very cleverly describes the unfathomable, surrealistic situation. The inner and outer world is melting together and raises the question whether the wall really exists in a physical form or as an opportunity for the woman's personal development. Perhaps it is a barrier between a life of illusions and imitations and a life, unique and existential, beyond the every-day life that is our existence.
The Wall is a novel of great proportions about existential values. Never has the woman felt så important and unimportant at the same time. Important for the animals to survive, and unimportant for the force of nature. The heavy, melancholy realization about her indifference when it comes to nature is oozing from the pages. On the other hand she sees herself as having become a more clear-sighted person. The philosophical prose is arising the question about relative freedom. We think we are free in the modern society, but the woman is starting to question the world of conventions. What is freedom and who are we when we are no longer formed by the norms of society?...more
This is Anne-Marie Schjetleins debut novel, taking place in a hospital environment and centered around several characters, all seeking love in differeThis is Anne-Marie Schjetleins debut novel, taking place in a hospital environment and centered around several characters, all seeking love in different ways, but finding loneliness. The chapters about the little girl, living in misery together with her mother and little sister, are the foundation of the story, and it's very clear they are the key characters, forming the novel.
The book is about what shapes us, the importance of or lack of willpower, and how deep the shadows of our past goes. What's interesting is that there is no judgmental tone. The author lets an unfaithful man, despite his selfish act, still be a loving father that cares about his family and his wife. Their marriage is a facade, a contrast to the raw reality that he must face as a doctor. His mistress becomes a safety-valve to his seemingly perfect, strict every-day life.
A fascinating stylistic choice by the author is to let the characters define each others. They regard each other from their own perspectives, which shows the reader different dimensions of them. But some of the characters are somewhat unnecessary. It's difficult to introduce new characters after two thirds of the book. The police officers are almost superfluous and perhaps the book would have benefited without them. There are also some minor reactions by the characters that are a little unrealistic and a more established writer might have polished. But, being a debut novel, it's rather well written, with some of the characters really defined and interesting.
Schjetlein is a nurse herself and really describes her characters fascination for their work, for life and death, as well as the vocation of helping other people. A hospital environment is a fitting place for a murder. As one of the characters notices, it is like a society in miniature with all sorts of people and facilities - a restaurant, a hairdresser, a church, a library and so on. It gives the opportunity of a tone resembling the atmosphere of Agatha Christie-novels....more
Tore Renberg's latest novel translated to Swedish portrays people that stand alone. People that feel they are not part of the society, that there's noTore Renberg's latest novel translated to Swedish portrays people that stand alone. People that feel they are not part of the society, that there's no place for them. The book shows how it is to be at the bottom of Stavanger in Norway - the most wealthy city in the world, according to the author.
Most of the characters are destructive and on their way somewhere, but the destination is not clear. Among the characters is a criminal gang that view themselves as moral, a young rebel dating a religious girl, a loving father that desperately needs money. The characters meet in different way, and define each other - a complement to the third-person perspective.
Tore Renberg is a talented, established Norwegian author, "Vi ses i morgon" being the twenty-first book, published last year, but only now translated to Swedish. The language is rather expressive, but often harsh, including swearwords, and therefor it might not be a book for sensitive people. At the bottom of it, the novel is about who we are, and why.
Renberg paints a very tragic picture of society. Everyone hasn't got the same chance, not even in the most wealthy city in the world - something that is ironically repeated through the book. Most of the characters don't see a glimpse of the comfortable every-day life of the middle class and capitalism, that the town presumably is associated with. The characters unhappiness is growing. They feel they have to take matters in their own hands. They all have dreams. ...more
The classic, biblical tale has been portrayed many times, in different ways. Oscar Wilde is just one among many authors that saw the potential in theThe classic, biblical tale has been portrayed many times, in different ways. Oscar Wilde is just one among many authors that saw the potential in the tragedy and made the story his own, as a play. The main story about the tetrarch Herod's daughter that gets John the Baptist's head in exchange for dancing, is the same. But details are different. Historically, Salome was a more passive character, not well defined, without many lines. Originally, she didn't even have a name. She was just a price for her mother to pay for her own will. Oscar Wilde made her an own individual, with thoughts and feelings. Of course, she is still a victim of the patriarchy, but she also has power which she knows how to use. Tragically, the only power women had, in most cases, was their body.
Oscar Wilde's Salome is an interesting character. She isn't helpless in the same way as other versions, but a victim to her own lust, in the same way as Herod is portrayed. She uses Herod objectifying her to objectify John the Baptist. She does anything to finally be able to kiss him - or abuse him. This version is more about Salome's lust and will than Herod's lust and Herodias will. In this version it's Salome that wants John the Baptist's head. Since she can't master him in life, it has to be in death. There's no silver platter. Like a brutish conqueror, Salome takes hold of his severed head and kisses it. In this way, Salome's part isn't passive, but active, complicated, vengeful and ruthless. However, in the end, one might speculate about who is the most powerful character.
Oscar Wilde's prose isn't as rich and full of wit as it usually is. Whether it is a deliberate choice or not is unclear, but Salome shouldn't be about the prose. It's a simple tale with many complicated themes and way of interpretations. ...more
In her fourth book, Nanna Johansson does everything to fit in, but it doesn't really work out too well. In the beginning of the book is an email she rIn her fourth book, Nanna Johansson does everything to fit in, but it doesn't really work out too well. In the beginning of the book is an email she received which calls her a whore and that men have built the society and deserves to run it.
The title, translated, would be "How to cure a feminist", and she explains, very detailed and with sarcasm, that feminists exist only because they are not getting laid. Hence, she appears to have sold the problem. The book is a satire of the conventions and norms of society, both regarding politics and the patriarchy. She answer job ads, visits dating sites and thanks BIC for the female pen. Ironically, of course. She is relentless, ruthless and hilarious. ...more
In Athena Farrokhzad's debut book ”Vitsvit” there is a mixture of what is and what were. The family came from Iran to Sweden, and the poetry centers aIn Athena Farrokhzad's debut book ”Vitsvit” there is a mixture of what is and what were. The family came from Iran to Sweden, and the poetry centers around politics and the breaking point - the relationship with the place they left and the place where they arrived. Fragments of testimonies describe memory and identity. Athena Farrokhzad has chosen an interesting way of expression. She lets her poetry consist of the voices of her family members. The mother's attempt to assimilate and her father's voice of revolution. It's violent and nostalgic. Brutal and beautiful.
There are glimpses of the author in the beginning, but she doesn't return. Instead, the reader has to get to know her through the eyes of the family, and there are often conflicts when they view her from their own perspectives.
The white text on black strips resembles a collage, and perhaps that is the feeling the author wants to convey. It's a mixture of voices that should all be heard, together and individually. The strips might also suggest that the poetry is like subtitles in a movie, which reminds the reader of the fact that this is people's real quotes.
Farrokhzad uses the whole width of the language. Sometimes, it's casual, but more often it's beautiful, intimate and strong. The result makes Athena Farrokhzad a promising debutante. ”Vitsvit” is also leaving the reader with a self-critical emotion. Because, who is the blurry shape reflecting in the silver colored, shiny, mirror-like front cover? ...more
The novel is dark and brutal with plenty of fights, sex and more murders than in any modern book. The story begins with a brutal scene between a marriThe novel is dark and brutal with plenty of fights, sex and more murders than in any modern book. The story begins with a brutal scene between a married couple. Then, it just escalates into a crescendo of violence. ”The beast within” is such a contrast to the prudent writing of Victorian England.
Zola is examining the cause of violence. Jeaolusy, hatred and egoism are common factors, as well as the more unusually emphasized concept of atavism. Not one person is good. Every single one is very flawed and selfish, perhaps with the exception of the Cabuche, becoming a kind of martyr, carrying the burden of the defects of man. Zola doesn't portray women as particularly good creatures, but as guilty and evil as men, only that the conventions have made them think they need a man to do the deed, with Flore as an interesting exception. Of course, being a strong individual and able to make decisions and execute them, good or bad, Flore had to be very physically strong and big boned – described as manly, because a woman apparently can't be all that and still be feminine. On the other hand, Severine, a more timid woman - easier to like and identify with - made not so different decisions, which prove that Zola found women, regardless of their more or less modest or timid personality, as good or bad as men.
Despite all their flaws, the characters are easy to care for because they are portrayed as very human, perhaps more so than we might apprehend. They were not good nor exceptionally bad, just emotional and not very controlled, which, of course, brought disaster. Other factors are the occasion and surroundings.
The concept of good and evil is very much a matter of circumstances, but all characters have the ability to be both. Everything exists in man. Every human being has a violent nature. What makes certain people commit murder is just due to circumstances. Another theme is the repercussions of succumbing to one's instincts. ”The beast within” is a refreshing, experimental analyses of violence and its core, origin and consequences. The railroad with its passing, unknowing, uncaring trains is a colorful contrast to the emotions living inside the characters, and the modern ways contribute to hide and repress the violent human nature, the beast within, making them appear civilized. As well as today. Civilization, with the conception of man above beast, might be just an illusion....more
Strömquist's latest book describes the view of the female genitalia through the ages. She reflects upon the borderline interest for the female sex orgStrömquist's latest book describes the view of the female genitalia through the ages. She reflects upon the borderline interest for the female sex organ, and the reader gets to visit the stone age, the witchcraft processes, queen Kristina's grave opening, the influence of religion and the enlightenment period, and finally the ideals of today. Every age is characterized by taboos and attempts to construct the female sex organ according to the norm of the time.
The book has elements of satire when it comes to the way men through history have shown an immense interest in the female genitalia and done all kinds of sick procedures on the basis of their contemporary opinions. The ambivalent perspective of women - the madonna/whore concept - originates from hundreds of years of twisting and turning of women's sexuality. Religion brought a new concept. Instead of being sinful temptresses, women became innocent, in lack of sexuality whatsoever. Science brought the need for a new explanation to why women lacked power. It was suddenly important to emphasize the difference between the genders, and that women were not fit to have power.
Strömquist writes in the most insightful way and the book, despite the comic style, should be taken very seriously. It's a historical analyze of the view of the female sex organ and the implications on women's lives. If men were menstruating, it would be viewed as something wonderful, holy and mysterious, according to the author. The period is, still today, not talked about, even regarded as something shameful.
Strömquist uses images, facts and comical reflections as a way of playing it down a notch. As a reader it's difficult not to be affected by the books descriptions of the immense influence and implications the patriarchy has had through the ages. Of course, men have a rough history in many ways, and there is, or at least have been, pressure when it comes to sexuality, but this book is dedicated to women and a tribute to the female sex organ. The Swedish political feminist party Fi is only a few years old. It would have been needed a long time ago....more
In her new book, the author takes the reader to a place of emotions such as uncertainty, insecurity and shame. A young girl's life centers around theIn her new book, the author takes the reader to a place of emotions such as uncertainty, insecurity and shame. A young girl's life centers around the condition of her mother. Will her well kept secret be revealed? How long can she carry a burden that begins to shatter her life?
The reader has no difficulties to understand the main character Lilian. Her emotional outbreaks and pretended indifference are easy to connect to the fact that she is living in a totally different world from anybody else. Freedom is just an illusion. Everything depends on her mother. When Lucia is approaching and Lilian is planning the celebrations in school - she finally gets to decide something and take control - she overdoes it. It's difficult to be just enough in a world without references. Her sudden want of intense control over something is understandable because of her dependence at home.
Feelings of guilt and shame of having a parent that is an alcololic and not being able to do anything about it really burns behind your eyes. The book has many dimensions. How it is to be totally powerless. To carry a burden. To take an immense responsibility that young people shouldn't have to do. To always put yourself last. To have to keep a secret that you don't understand. To feel invisible. To live in uncertainty. To have to be the parent when you are the child. And, finally, the relief when realizing that you are not alone. To be able to share the burden with someone. To make it less dramatic and to feel normal.
Many people undoubtedly recognize the main character's life in the book, and those who don't can get a glimpse of a life that is lived by many young people and perhaps get insight....more
This story about a builder making a chamber of stone in the home of the king Rhampsinitus. But he disposed one of the stones in such a manner so it coThis story about a builder making a chamber of stone in the home of the king Rhampsinitus. But he disposed one of the stones in such a manner so it could be taken out easily. When he was old, he told his two sons how the gold could be found.
Herodotus was considered as the "Father of history" in Western culture. He was the first historian known to collect information in such a way, to test their accuracy and arrange them. Herodotus didn't believe in this tale, but decided to write it anyway, because he had heard it. It's fascinating to read such ancient stories that have influenced later literature and perhaps culture and believes as well. It resembles "The Thousand and One Nights", but this one is too short to manage a captivating ability.