This month we bring you Swedish-language literature from Sweden and Finland. The writers here engage with inclusivity, poverty, identity, and representation, confronting cultural stereotypes to present new perspectives on their countries. Linnea Axelsson’s August Prize-winning epic poem offers a multigenerational portrait of the indigenous Sami culture. Poet Mara Lee finds a teenage confrontation with neo-Nazis affecting her later relationships. Balsam Karam conjures a hellish prison in a futuristic setting, and Andrzej Tichý considers the people contemporary Swedish society has disavowed. In work from two Finland-Swedish writers, Mathias Rosenlund upends the stereotype of Scandinavian affluence, while Adrian Perera exposes the unthinking racism behind publishing “categories.” Poet Nino Mick interrogates identity and the limitations of bureaucracy. And Johannes Anyuru travels to Alhambra and meditates on history and Islam. We thank our guest editor, Saskia Vogel, who introduces the issue and provides several of the translations. The costs of the translations were defrayed by a subsidy from the Swedish Arts Council, gratefully acknowledged. Elsewhere we present new writing from Indonesia and the second part of our fiction serial, “The Tears of an Unknown Artist, or Zaytun Pasta.”
Who Dreams of Us?: New Swedish-Language Writing
Whose story gets to be told?
What kind of home is it where no one dares say our son’s name
He squinted at me, swaying in the wind. Blood or soil, he asked.
The sun rose over the mountaintop in a blaze of blue and green and so the day began.
He said, this is real, and then he pulled up his shirt and showed us the scars under his arm.
Kopparberg Road 20
When you’ve always worked for a low wage, getting a higher wage is a challenge.
From “White Monkey”
I say change is always painful,/ someone has to be the first.
From “Twenty-Five Thousand Miles of Nerves”
I want to reside in the hard and permanent/ so I construct a suite of poems and a man to live inside
Writing is a post-traumatic symptom.
Reviewed by Jamie Mackay
By fusing a dialect-laden verse with knowledge and respect for Dante’s original, the Scottish writer and illustrator has built a bridge across borders and nations.
Reviewed by Susan Aberth
Edited by Mary Ann Caws, this anthology delivers new insights into this radical movement and rectifies past omissions to its canon with more intellectually daring and provocative non-French and female voices.