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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.