Imagination needs inspiration to bloom.


Seger by Viktor Jäderlund

The book is a comic book that tells the story of the long-termed struggle for deaf people’s right to their own language and to express themselves. The author Viktor Jäderlund is a young deaf comic artist who wanted to portray the deaf people's road to victory, thereby the title Victory.

The narrator is a deaf man called Peter, born in 1948. Unfortunately, the narrative is somewhat unimaginative and it’s difficult to get to know him. The text could have been more developed. Never the less, the purpose of the book, to highlight the history of deaf people, is called for. Important historical events that changed history and improved the situation for deaf people are portrayed. The author tells the story about the struggle between Abbe L’epée, who preached sign-language, and Samuel Heinicke, who was in favour of oralism, which means to teach deaf people to speak. Deaf people wanted to use sign-language, and only in 1981, the Swedish prime minister Torbjörn Fälldin stated that deaf people should have sign-language as their first language, and Swedish as their second. Sweden was the first country in the world to make this decision. The author also mentions events such as Sweden’s first school for deaf people, in 1809, the first youth organisation for deaf people, in 1966, the first text telephone and the first use of sign-language in the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s an interesting book with an important story to tell.


Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

It is a very beautiful, tragic story about love and sacrifice. The Little Mermaid wants to have a human life and an eternal soul. I think it is an interesting fairytale, but there are many aspects that could be discussed. The story is similar to others from the same time when it comes to gender issues and religon. I might be over analyzing parts of the story, and it’s nothing spectacular, but it is interesting to trying to understand the context.

On her fifteenth birthday, the Little Mermaid is allowed to see the human world above the waves, and instantly falls in love with a prince. Is it true love, or physical attraction? Well, let's decide it's true love for now, even though she doesn't know him, as is often the case in the old fairytales.

She is the ultimate martyr. She would give up anything, sacrifice her three hundred years of life, to experience a single day with him as a human being and then go to heaven – very religous and virtuous. She wants an eternal soul, and asks why the mermaids don’t have one, which is a good question that is never really answered.

Now comes the misogyny theme. The only way for her to have an eternal soul is to win a man’s love. Someone has to fall for her. Back then, a woman had to be acknowledged and chosen by a man, and, as usual, it is the physical attractiveness that will, perhaps, earn her an eternal soul. The only way to earn it is through marriage. This indicates that a woman’s purpose was to please men, and be virtious. From the moment when the Little Mermaid discovers the prince, her whole existence is about pleasing him. She is thus initially brave and strong, but eventually becomes fragile, vulnerable and dependent. That isn’t enough. If the prince falls for someone else she will die.

Now begins the transformation process that is still happening today, but today it is a system earning some people much money. She has to change her appearance to be able to please him, and she literally cuts her fin in half. She sacrifices everything. She can never return to her family and she endures much pain. Every step feels like stepping on broken glass. She even gives up her beautiful voice that makes her special - thus, she looses her power. She becomes her appearance.

After being discovered, naked, by the prince, and later having danced for him, perhaps a seductive dance, the bastard still doesn’t want her, but allows her to sleep on a cushion on the floor outside his room. She is, after all, reminded of the fact that she is not noble, and therefor, she doesn’t even deserve a bed. What does she see in this man? Her love is, of course, based on physical attraction. He is horrible, but everyone is treated after appearance, and he is obviously stunning.

H. C. Andersen rewrote the ending, which is obvious. The message is obvious. Certainly it can be useful to encourage children to be kind, but kindness can mean so much. The Little Mermaid’s good work as a kind of angel is strange. Why do mermaids need to earn an immortal soul in such a way? Are they not as good as human beings, who are supposed to have faith and live according to the religious rules, but never do? Furthermore, isn’t the reward of an eternal soul making the good deeds selfish? The original ending was darker, but more fitting. Of course, it is consoling that the Little Mermaid is able to have an eternal soul finally, but if the story had not been so misogynistic, she would have earned it already. She sacrificed her life for the person she loved, after all.

Despite these arguments, the fairytale really captivated and affected me.

Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen

It is a fairytale about appreciating what you have, and what is real, instead of being duped by materialism. The emperor of China hears about a nightingale in his garden, and when it later sings for him, it is trapped. Eventually, it manages to escape from its prison, and is hence exiled by the emperor.

Then, an artificial nightingale is singing in the palace, but there is a big difference between what is alive and real, and what is not. Later, the emperor needs the nightingale. Something makes him realize the worth of a living being. 
The fairytale is beautiful and have an important message. 


You by Caroline Kepnes

Caroline Kepnes book is about someone chasing someone who is chasing someone else.

The narrative perspective is interesting. Instead of following the person who is a victim of a crime, the reader gets to follow the one who commits them. Joe seems to be an ordinary young man who works in a bookstore, who likes Hannah and Her Sisters and are tired of Stephen King. He is rather intelligent. But he has no limits when it comes to getting what he wants, and what he wants is "you". The book is written in a second person perspective and "you" refers to a woman named Beck, who happens to walk into the bookstore and fascinate Joe. The book deals with thoughts, feelings and actions, which all have to do with "you". This perspective is less usual than first- or third person perspective and it takes a while to get used to, but you are drawn into the book and become Joe and Beck at the same time.

The language is vulgar occasionally, and initially it is unclear whether the relationship is about love or just physical attraction. Joe tries to respect and listen to what Beck says, but he always expects to get a physical reward, and sex seems to be the only thing on his mind. Perhaps the author tries to adapt the language of a young man's thoughts, but Joe is like a hormone fueled fifteen year old.

Joe has unreasonable expectations when it comes to Beck. He does not like botox and bronze powder. "You will accept your age and you will be beautiful, unlike Ronnie". It is the common notion that women should not try so much, but still be beautiful. Furthermore, there is a obsolete generalization of women throughout the book, which feels out-dated. It's not just Joe that is a sexist and generalizes women. There seems to be a general contempt for women. Beck is equally negative to women, and eager to distance herself from them. Perhaps it is such a woman that a man like Joe wants. The expression to be like a chick appears several times. Shopping like a chick, whining like a chick and gossiping like a chick. The misogynistic tone makes the boundless, hyper sexual Beck rise above the crowd of impossible women and appear desirable. Most women in the book actually seem to despise other women. A woman customer exclaims that she is not one of ”those girls” who buy Bukowski to be ”a girl who buys Bukowski”. What does it mean? Is it so unbelievable that a woman would want to read Bukowski that she has to justify reading it? Of course, Joe likes this comment. I don’t know what the purpose is, but it’s not very appealing.

It’s interesting that women are portrayed as irrational, while Joe makes no attempt to see his own irrational behavior. There are some contradictions. He attacks a woman, not to mention murdering people, but "would never hit a woman." What he does not like in others, often mirrors his own behavior. He thinks badly of a man who responds to Beck’s obvious emotional crisis by exploiting the situation, when he, in fact, does the same. He has no self-esteem and self-awareness, and no understanding of reality. It is rather normal to justify one’s behavior, but Joe complains constantly, despite the fact that he puts himself in the situation. Irresponsibility and lack of insight are warning signs. His selective empathy, and other psychopathic characteristics, are dangerous. Eventually, there is no limit for what he is capable of.

Facebook and twitter are a large part of Beck’s and her friends’ lives. Joe thinks Beck writes better on Twitter than in her short stories. The book portrays the constant updates as evidence of narcissism. I think it reflects today’s society, and might be good for some people, and an addiction of acknowledgement for others. The author makes it a big theme in the book, and shows the importance people give it. Joe believes that we dive into our mobile phones when we feel insecure and that too much time with it makes us less capable of reading facial expressions. Joe is a character who exaggerates whenever it fits him, but it's still an interesting approach.

The author has humour. Joe thinks that books with psychopaths, for example Stephen King's novels, are for sick readers that don’t dare to act on their thoughts. That would mean that Joe would think readers of this book to be sick, because this is such a book. At the same time, he would never realize that he is a psychopat, or something similar, and therefore wouldn’t regard this book as such a book with sick characters, but perhaps a book with a mistunderstood character. Joe sees himself as healthy, and whatever happens, he never doubt that. He thinks it obvious that it is the world that is wrong. He has a contempt for other people and turns everything to his advantage. It’s interesting to see how a really sick man reasons. Perhaps it's a survival instinct, a strategy to avoid facing himself. There is self-loathing in there, somewhere. The author digs deep into his mind and portrays different levels of thoughts.

The book is appealing, there is no doubt about it. I think that what makes the book interesting is that the reader gets close to the nightmare she has learned to fear, but is safe at the same time. In real life, it is impossible to decide who is dangerous, in advance. Usually, Joe behaves like a normal man, but his thoughts are in a dark place. It is not until he puts his thoughts into action that the public around him regard him as a psychopath, but the reader gets an exclusive insight into his psyche, and the author skillfully depicts his impression of the surroundings while he handles the surroundings impression of him.

The author uses the element of surprise in an intelligent way. Terrifying actions are uttered quite modestly in the middle of a sentence, like when Joe protests when hearing about a burglary, because he knows how it was done. It is obvious to him that he has broken into the house. He doesn’t event think about it before commenting on it.

The book differs from most books with its perspective of a murderer and the second person narrative, but it is not unique in any way. What makes it interesting is the themes such as the deep insight and levels of the train of thoughts of a sick man and the critical view of social media.


Det går av by Carl Jonas Love Almqvist

The book, published in 1839, was written by Carl Jonas Love Almqvist. Sergeant Albert goes on a boattrip from Stockholm to Lidköping, in Sweden, and meets the wonderful Sara Videbäck, a glazier’s daughter. They fall in love, but soon he discoverst that she has taken over the family business and refuses to stop working just because she has fallen in love. She talks highly of people not moving in together and demands that they will not get married. Independence is very important to her because her father mistreated her mother in their marriage. The main theme of the book is marriage as an imprisonment.

This book caused a great scandal in 1839. The author lost his job as president of Nya Elementarskolan and had to live in exile because the book views marriage as a life long institution, preventing the people married to leave each other. The character Sara’s claim that if you love someone, marriage is not needed reflects the author’s own opinion. The book has influenced Sweden and perhaps contributed to the modern view of relationships as equal and marriages as a little overrated.


Att föda ett barn by Kristina Sandberg

The novel is the first in the series about the housewife Maj, which earned Kristina Sandberg the August Prize in 2014. The book takes place in the Swedish town Örnsköldsvik in the late 30s. Maj is trying to get over an old love when she meets Tomas, and what can’t happen for a woman happens. She becomes pregnant. The only way out is to marry him. Then follows a year of an unhappy marriage, of having to spend time with her husband’s family, and with a new born child who is not wanted by anyone.

Kristina Sandberg uses a unique prose. The sentences flow together with a liberal use of commas and there are no quotation marks indicting when someone is speaking, and who. It takes time getting used to, and makes it difficult to read. But, on the other hand, it helps the reader to get into Maj's head - which is very confused sometimes - and understand her everyday life and her view of her duties such as the domestic work, which Maj sometimes uses as escapism from her thoughts and feelings. But she seldom complains about her situation, because women didn’t complain. They would only perform their duties. Maj feel constantly inept. As a reader you might want to confirm her, give her a little confidence, anything to make her rebel against her situation. Her identity is in the succesful cookies or the advanced dinner. The author has explained that people who get annoyed at Maj might forget that she is a product of her time. It's an important comment. A woman’s value was to be a good wife, mother and housekeeper. Her own dreams were often not even considered. The housekeeping became important because it was the knowledge the women had. Their sense of worth. Their lives were about serving others. The men came home from work, were served, talked with friends or read a book. They learned about the world, and how to affect it. Women's lives were often spent by meticulously polishing the facade. But ignoring those duties were not kindly looked on. The book is about the everyday life but at the same time, it is a big drama. Kristina Sandberg is talanted at depicting long term anxiety and unhappiness that lead to a depressing existence.

Tomas's family is wealthy and Maj must constantly relate to different sisters-in-law and the cold hearted mother-in-law. Is she good enough? What do other people think? Maj is afraid that others might think that she is incompetent, lazy or promiscuous for having a baby before getting married. The novel is reminiscent of Kerstin Thorvall’s authorship that takes place more than ten years earlier. The fear of believing that you are nothing and that others might discover that you only pretend to be something. The absence of her own family on her own wedding. Maj misses them tremendously.

Tomas doesn't see how much she struggles with her situation and her pregnancy, but he tries to relieve her as best as he can. He wants to make her happy, but he does not know how. For she is not saying how she wants it. She tries to accept her life, but the loveless marriage is a disaster. She thinks about her family, her ex-boyfriend, her friends and her job as a waitress. It would be fine if she was enjoying her new life, being a housewife, but she misses everything.

The book raises many thoughts about the women in the 30’s. What was it like giving birth to a child? Did they feel appreciated? How selfless can a woman be? How is a woman to constantly serve others instead of following their own dreams? The novel is fictional, but Kristina Sandberg has captured the spirit of the time and portrays the social structure from a housewife's perspective. It is a forgotten and important part of our history.


Gardet by Staffan Malmberg

Staffan Malmberg's latest book is about a vigilante group. The main character Johannes is on paternity leave and tired. He is on the edge of something, but doesn’t know what. He is tired of people who do not respect others. Something breaks in him when the sound of a motorcycle raises his daughter in a stroller, and suddenly he knows what must be done.

Many people are certainly irritated by other people's behavior, but few have gone a step further. Staffan Malmberg explores what happens when people take the law into their own hands. The characters are tired of selfishness, indifference, the rampant individualism and dogmatism gains. One of them comments on the relationship between assertiveness and decisiveness, something that is not always an advantage. Who is behaving perfectly towars other people? Who is to decide what is allowed? The novel is a terrifying example of what happens when people create their own conditions and expect everyone to follow them, live according to them. The group is growing uncontrollably. They are becoming organized and turned into a vigilante group. Johannes describes the situation that escalates into a catastrophy. "We were the reaction. It was when we became the action it went to hell.”

The book is sparse and the language is at times beautiful, almost poetic. Few words can contain very much. The desire to change. What happens when you lose control. Democracy and anarchy forces. Both in society and in the small group. For it is impossible to control people, as Johannes soon learns, despite being the founder of the group. It’s an interesting situation, and very unpleasent how fast destructiveness apper in the group that at first had good intentions.


Forensics: What bugs, burns, prints, DNA and more tell us about crime by Val McDermid

After countless cases, many of them investigated by the character Tony Hill, Val McDermid decided to write a book about the true forensic science. She takes us behind the barriers at a crime scene, explains forensic science and how autopsies are done. The book deals with entomology, forensic medicine, toxicology, fingerprints, blood traces, dna-profiling, forensic sculpture, face reconstruction, digital criminal science and forensic psychology, and the author uses an interesting approach. Interviews with experts in the field and murder investigations from all ages are used to show the development of forensic science in the last 200 years, and it is fascinating. Among many, there is a story about a physician that murdered approximately 210 patients, two bodies found in 30 packages and a spy found dead in a trunk. Experts on everything from flies and larvae to poisons try to map the circumstances to understand what has happened, so the police have greater chances of finding the person responsible.

The book is repulsive, occasionally, but very fascinating. It shows us an entire world that the public, generally, isn’t allowed to enter. A meticulous work where details might mean the different between life and death.

An interesting fact is the author’s critical approach to forensic science. She describes an immense belief in evidence, both by the judicial system and the public. Experts testimonies in court depend much on their experience, reconstructions and interpretations. Furthermore, in court the attourneys and prosecutors often discusses juridical matters instead of seeking the truth, and might use the testimony as they choose. Since dna-profiling, or genetic fingerprints, was first used in investigations in the 80’s, 314 people being sentenced have been freed, only in the US. Dna has had an immense impact, just as physical fingerprints had in the beginning of the 1900’s. But not even dna-profiling is totally reliable. Contamination happens, and even the refined dna-profiling technique, LCN, where a microscopic quantity of dna is copied, has its flaws. Forensic consists of science and the human factor.

One of the most important themes in the book is the author’s discussion about the fact that the progress of science constantly forces us to a standpoint where ethic and morality is concerned. In forensics, the mapping of genetic material and research of genes that increase the risk of becoming a criminal, restrict the individual integrity and it is almost impossible to garantee that information is not misused. This kind of questions are important to contemplate. Today, we have to consider the risks of technology such as the current surveillance and the development of artificial intelligence.

Those who have seen the tv-series CSI, Crime scene investigation, might be a little disappointed when reading the book. CSI might have increased expectations when it comes to forensic science, but on the other hand, it might have awaken an interest and curiosity among the public. Those who understand the difference between fiction and reality and want to know more about forenic science will have many questions answered. Unfortunately, there could have been more information about different procedures and how they work. But the author covers many parts of forensic science and this is a way to discover the forensics.

In a time when detective fiction and murder mysteries fill the shelves in the book stores it is interesting to plunge into the real work, where there are as many mysteries. Forensic science is astonishing and the reality often exceeds poem.


The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The novel, published in 1880, is Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s last book. This is a rich novel, containing everything about human life. It deals with emotions, inner struggles and religious believes. It captures the human soul. The book centers around three brothers, Ivan, Dmitri and Alexei or Alyosha Fyodorovich Karamazov, and their relationship with their strange and difficult father, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov. Ivan is intellectual and atheist, Dmitri is a sensualist and Alyosha is a novice in a monastery. Dostoyevsky was a master of creating believable, living characters. However, there were few female characters, and I would have liked them more nuanced. Katerina Ivanovna had a little depth, but Grushenka seemed one-dimensional. I would have liked to see the world from their perspective.

The book really gets going when Fyodor, the selfish and ruthless father, is murdered and Dmitri is arrested. The following trial is interesting and includes psychological themes such as morality and motive, discussed from different points of view by the attorney and prosecutor.

The dialogue is often deep, philisophical and interesting. But the book is heavy and sometimes so detailed that the pace becomes painstakingly slow. It is considered a masterpiece, and it really is, but I somehow got weary of the meticulous details and thereby cared less about the characters than I initually did. However, it is a great book and especially the last hundred pages are amazing.


Bad feminist by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay calls herself a bad feminist. She does not want to be put on a pedestal. All role models will sooner or later be pushed down. She considers herself as already pushed down. It is sad that not everyone can feel included in feminism. It seems that you can only be a feminist according to certain principles.

In her collection of essays Roxane Gay describes the narrow feminist role. She strikes a blow for feminists that don’t fit the profile as ”militant” and even use make-up and shave their armpits - as if that would be the typhical feminist. What about these feminists? Is it something wrong about beeing what is considered ”unfeminine”? It is a difficult balance. She should be careful not to become what she herself condemns, and exclude certain feminists. Feminism should be including, not be yet another rule for women that are tired of being told how to look and how to behave. (However, there might be one exception. It would be problematic to call oneself a feminist if accepting and approving the terms of the patriarchy that restricts and objectifies women - the very same patriarchy that feminists seek to destroy). Some women do happen to behave according to the traditional feminine role, and others do not. They have fought hard to be accepted. Most women probably are a mixture of different roles.

Roxane Gay discusses politicians' position of power, and how they think they have the right to make decisions about womens’ bodies, when discussing reproductive rights. She writes about black peoples’ conditions and discusses popular culture from a feminist perspective. She mentions music and sexist lyrics, comedians mysogynist attitude, young adults books and movies and television series like The Hunger Games and Girls. This is very important. Female stereotypes are common in popular culture, but she also points out that it is unfair to give a single movie or tv-series the responsibility to change the industry. The movie Bridesmaids got to take a lot of responsibility, and to call it revolutionary is putting unreasonable pressure on production. Perhaps calling it ”a touch of innovation” is enough. I wonder what Roxane Gay thinks about the series Marvel's Jessica Jones? (Comics are not known to be equal, but this is a protagonist who does not agree with the genre stereotypes.) The main character is a female anti-heroine, fighting against misogyny. Marvel's Jessica Jones is basically about abuse, both mental and physical. Assault and rape. If one is to depict rape, social structures and the consequences can not be ignored. To not be simply a way to exploit the female body as macabre, graphic, bizarre entertainment, the topic should be problemized and analyzed. It must be depicted realistically. While shows like the ”Outlander” and the 2Game of thrones” depict rape without acknowledging it, Jessica Jones call it for what it is, and the consequences of such a horrible experience are clear.

In her youth, Roxane Gay distanced herself from feminism because the word was considered an insult. She was called an angry, sex-hating, man-hating lady with a victim mentality. There are undoubtedly many who recognize themselves. Feminism is a sensitive word. Who is it that has distorted the meaning? Those who have the most to lose if it is successful. Too bad, she didn’t continued and deepend the discussion. That is precisely the problem with the book. She identifies different areas, but the analyses are not deep enough and many of the conclusions she draws are not new. Much of the content is already discussed. Furthermore, there are some contradictions in her arguments, but by calling helself a bad feminist, she might have justified a slightly fuzzy text and any holes in her argument. She does not pretend to be someone she is not, she just gives her view of society. But the book offers an important point. Roxane Gay may like the color pink and music with sexistic texts, but she's not a bad feminist. "Bad" according to her definition, is actually human. If there was something as bad feminists, the word feminist would loose it’s meaning, because we are all human. I am happy that Roxane Gay has nuanced feminism. One of the book's greatest advantages is the author’s passion and inspiration.

The most important theme is the contradictions that exist within feminism. All feminists have their own view of the concept. When privileged people like Emma Watson and Zara Larsson call themselves feminists, they are often critizized. When people express themselves even though they lack some gender studies or heavy experiences, discussions follows about who have the right to call themselves feminists. Of course, the need for more than one kind of woman is important. Not only the white, privileged woman should be able to fight for feminism. If there is anything this book indicates it is the current lack of acceptance and the need for the very concept of feminism to be more including.


Prins Charles känsla by Liv Strömquist

Something about Liv Strömquist’s books is really interesting. Perhaps it's the analyses, the history or the facts. For evert theory, Strömquist uses sources, such as researchers, psycho analysts and real events to back her arguments up.

This is about love as a social structure. Why do women often need to be acknowledged by men? Why do men often distance themselves from intimacy and feelings? In a culture that encourages gender differences and small children learn early on to behave in a certain way, it's not difficult to understand. Girls identify with their mothers, and develop caring and affirmative characteristics. Boys often don’t identify with their fathers, because they are absent. They have no role model and therefore assimilate the sexistic culture. Hence, the culture is maintained. Of course, everything improves through the years. Nowadays, men have parental leave in Sweden and are expected to spend more time with their children, not to mention the fight for gender equality with means such as the concept "hen", an indefinite pronoun that serves to take focus away from expectations concerning gender, but old traditions still form people.

This book analyses the twosome, heterosexual couple, how the society is built upon this structure, and the consequences for gender equality. Strömquist also mentions famous couples that have lived their lives according to this norm, and how it affected them, from historical people like Gustaf Fröding and his self-pity and prostitutes, and Victoria Benedictsson and George Brandes, to people of today, such as Charlie Sheen and Hugh Grant, and recent couples like Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown.

Strömquist is also describing how men opress women to be able to win them over, also a strategy in the book The Game, and whether love and relationships are gender equal. Women sacrifice everything, care about and blow up men's ego, while men do nothing of the sort. Women's identity is constituted by their bodies and what they can offer men. Their destiny is to take care of and comfort other people, and not themselves. The consequence is that men are able to seek their happiness in work or hobbies, encouraged by their wives, and women don't get the encouragement and support from their husbands to do the same. Unbelievably, despite all this, many men still seem to fear marriage, and some of them even have a condescending attitude to women. At the same time, they maintain relationstips with these women. When looking at it more carefully, it’s not very inexplicable. There are researchers that claim that men need women to maintain their independence. Without them, they have no one to be independent of. A study shows that after a divorce, women are feeling happy and feel their self-confidence growing, while men are feeling unhappy and depressed. Even though twosome marriages often mean a kind of ownership which might be unhealthy, it seems that men benefit from it, while women are restricted and not enough supported. So, perhaps, men should learn to appraciate relationships and marriage more. Women often stay in these relationships because they have learned that the only way of self-worth is to be acknowledged and approved by men. When getting hurt, women need comfort, and they also need for their men to comprehend them and therefore they try even harder to explain how they feel to be able to fix the relationship. The psychological mechanisms are very complicated, and of course can't be applied to every one. Most people probably don't think about it, and don't think it's necessary, because people have a choice, right? Of course, most men are nice and most women don't accept a dysfunctional relationship. But what if we are so used to this phenomena that we don't see it? When you start to analyze, you discover this structure that explains a lot about patterns of behavior. There are always many studies and many professional people having opinions, about any subject, and they are not always right about everything, but this book offers interesting analyses that explain some structures of society.


War's unwomanly face by Svetlana Alexievich

Svetlana Alexievich has interviewed countless people during many years, to describe the soul of the Soviet Union, in her series "Voices from the Big Utopia". She received the Nobel price in literature in 2015. In this book, two hundred women speaks of the time during the war. How they fought the enemy, how they rescued wounded soldiers, and how they themselves fired sniper’s rifle, bombed and killed. They had learned to hate, but even during the darkest of times, their hearts loved, and they saved not only their own, but German soldiers as well. Svetlana Alexievich collects these stories and makes art.

This book really affected me. It feels like I have been there, at the front, among the soldiers. 
Together, they make a choir of voices, and I wonder whether it’s easier to understand the reality of that time from one single person’s testimony, or through the fabric of many memories. The book is full of strong voices that have been silent for forty years. It was time the emotional shards, the human destinies, were told.

This is not a hero book. This book is not focusing on the winning of the war, but on the reality during and after the war. The women's stories are colorful. They remembered feelings and details, and they never stopped appreciating beauty and art. Some refused to change from their dresses, others slept with their earrings, while yet others slept while sitting up to be able to wear hats as long as possible. Because, in daytime, everything that was considered female was forbidden.

Surprisingly many young women volunteered to fight at the front. At a very young age, they convinced their parents to be allowed to participate, or escaped from their homes to join the army and be sent to the front. The loyalty to their country was immense, and more important than their families. It was not only the young girls dreams. Some of the parents even wanted their young daughters to join the army. It's difficult to understand their enormous devotion. Their team spirit and companionship. It's a big difference between communism and today's individualism, and it's interesting to learn about a totally different perspective of live.

One might think that women’s part of the war indicates some gender equality, but even though women were allowed to join the army, the men treated them far from equal, and used all kinds of excuses to justify their behavior. Their view of these women became very clear after the war, when many of them didn't want to marry a woman soldier, and even despised them. Half a million women sacrificed everything, and when returning from the war, they were forgotten. And while the male soldiers were received as heroes, the female soldiers were viewed as unfeminine and unattractive. I want to remember everyone. It’s difficult to explain, but I feel like I owe them that. They have been alone with their feelings for a very long time, abandoned by the society after the war. The least I can do is to listen to them, and remember them. She who made herself a white dress of a German parachute and married her love before a battle. She who let her daughter carry a bomb. She who drowned her own baby to not be found by the German soldiers. She who kissed her husband for the very last time. She who gave the enemy bread. She who was captured and tortured. She who still can’t handle the color red. She who came home and realized her child didn’t recognize her. She who returned home and found her own grave. And many more.

They all deserve to be remembered. This book makes them as invincible and immortal as they once were.


The Lover by Marguerite Duras

The book takes place in the French Indochina. A young, French girl in the colonial class falls in love with a rich, Chinese man and it is the beginning of a romance, despite her mother’s fear of her destroying her chances to be married.

The story technique differ from many other novels with biographical elements. It is not written in chronological order, but takes leaps in time. The novel is consisting of many short sentences, mixed with longer ones.

It’s a dense book. The prose is spare and often objective, something that is appreciated by some, and not by others. It is difficult to really know the characters when not getting into their heads. The book is beautifully written, but leaves much for the reader to comprehend and read between the lines. Indochina was a part of the French Colonial Empire, and the girl and the man can be interpreted as symbols of power and the occupied. It’s an interesting book that takes time to digest.


Night Film by Marisha Pessl

When Ashley, the daughter of a famous movie director, Stanislas Cordova, is found dead, the journalist Scott McGrath begins to investigate the family. Last time he worked on a case about the family ended in a personal tragedy. This time, something even more important might be on the line.

It took a while to get into the book. Scott McGrath was a clean slate and not very interesting, except his obsession with Cordova. I didn’t think Ashley Cordova was especially fascinating either, despite the author’s attempt. For a long time seemed like a confused emo teenager. The only character that I found interesting right away was Nora.

Just as in Cordova’s movies, there are unexplained elements and soon, Scott’s entire life is almost turning into one of these movies. Is it a dream? Is he going mad? It’s difficult to know where reality ends and illusion begins. Perhaps that is what makes this book special. Magical cracks is cutting through the world and make him question the reality and himself. Cordova’s movies seem to have a story technique that is a mixture of Alfred Hitchcock and Ingmar Bergman, but more frightening and controversial. Such movies are being interpreted and often considered cult. There are more similarities, as well. Just as Cordova, Bergman filmed many movies on his estate on Fårö in Sweden.

The author uses a special grip. She fills the novel with fake photographies and articles to frame the story and put the reader into the world of the book. It’s an interesting concept, and works most of the time, but the those supposed to be photographs of Ashley look staged. She looks more like an angry model than a mysterious, fascinating pianist.

Something happens two thirds into the book. Suddenly, the pace is increasing, and the book becomes intense when the story begins to unfold. It’s a unusual book in many ways, not least when it comes to the gothic feeling that rests over the family Cordova, that soon envelops the main character.


Jag lever, pappa: Utöya, 22 juli 2011 - Dagen som förändrade oss

The book describes the terrorist attack, 2011, in Oslo from two perspectives. Siri, a 20-year old girl, was at a Labour party summer camp on the island Utöya when the massacre occurred that killed 69 people. She called her father, Erik, a former journalist, when running for her life. Erik tries to understand what is happening.

First, the government quarter were bombed, killing several people. Two hours later, people on Utöya began to hear gun shots, ran and tried to hide. When a man, dressed like a police officer, arrived, people were relaxing, never imagining that the man was in fact the terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik. He shot everyone he could find, except small children. Siri found a way down the cliff to the shore, and hid with several others in a small cave that barely covered them. At the same time, her father tried to understand what was going on, and when he realized that someone was killing people, he drove out to the nearest point on mainland, feeling afraid and powerless.

How do you handle life after terror? How do you manage everything? Do you change? If you do, then how? The book gives insight to the massacre and how the people that survived were marked deep for ever, struggled to carry on, mourned the dead and remembered the attack, but refused to let themselves be defined by it. After the terror, Siri was very tense and reacted on every sound around her. She thought it uncomfortable to be around police officers. At the same time, she was strong and very determined to not let the fear win. In this way, the book is offering a deeper insight, a reflexion of what such a experience do to people, and how they are feeling weeks later when everyone else is carrying on.

The book might have been shorter. It is about hundred pages of memorials and other gatherings, and they are all very similar. They are important, of course, but it feels like the book drags on. It is not written in the best of ways, the language is a little uneven and sometimes repetitive. First, we get to read about Siri’s experiences, and then we get to reread the same situation from Erik’s point of view. During the terror, it’s effective because it’s interesting to get to know as much as possible of the time. But after the attack, occasionally, it slows down the pace.

However, it's an important portrayal of the worst attack in Norway in modern time. In all, 77 people were killed in the two attacks. Both Siri and Erik realized the importance of reporting, and through this book, they contribute to the event not ever being forgotten.