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Heart pain on the way out

The young literature is getting over itself.


[literature] Dorrit Weger is childless and has reached the age of 50. She is superfluous. The only valuable thing she has is organs. Therefore, one spring she is brought to the biological banking reserve unit. Here she will live as a living organ donor. Organ by organ, until she reaches the "final donation".

This is the starting point for Swedish author Ninni Holmqvist's debut novel Unity, which came out at the Swedish Norstedt publishing house in August. Holmqvist's novel is a science fiction-inspired dystopia about a society in which all the unnecessary people, childless women over 50 and men over 60, are placed in an institution. The book is a signal that the wave of so-called "young, self-centered literature" is returning. At least that is what Staffan Söderblom, author and professor at Litterär Gestalt, author education at the University of Gothenburg, believes.

- A direction that has been dominant in the present now takes a step further and becomes something else, says Söderblom.

- Holmqvist's short stories were characterized by chamber music with one or three people. This year the novel came, and it was something completely different.

In Swedish literature, one has also been able to see one in recent years orientering who moves away from the kitchen counter, towards horror and gothic, then with Jerker Virdborg's Black Crab and John Ajvide Lindqvist's vampire novel Let the Right One In as mentioned examples. They use traditional features from the crime and horror genres, respectively, but in new ways.

Maybe we can look to Sweden to find where the young Norwegian writers' way is heading?

The ego literature

Much has been said and written about the fact that younger literature in Norway and Sweden in particular is characterized by being self-centered. It bends inward, it is said. Looking at the navel. Lonely men sit on solitary reins thinking of lost love, frustrated women perish in dull suburbs.

- The literary survey of small social units has long done fantastically well in both Sweden and Norway, says Söderblom.

Dagbladet's Cathrine Krøger went hard against Signaler 2006, the debut anthology of the year from Cappelen. "So commonplace in plot and setting that it looks confusing to diary notes," she wrote. In the Aftenposten October 17, author Torgrim Eggen took a settlement with the same tendency. "The fall of the enormous egos," Bergens Tidende called it.

Self-fiction, and the ironisation of it, are high in the course of the younger book harvest. The pseudonym Leia Starmann, whose main interest is comics, debuts with a novel about Leia Starmann, whose main interest is comics. Ari Behn fictionalized the tabloid media around, while debutant Frank Lande launches himself with the book Frank Lande, about Frank Lande.

Cotton soft prose

Pedro Carmona-Alvarez is the editor of the Signals anthology, which was thus criticized for disproportionate self-focus. Carmona-Alvarez says he can understand the criticism, even though he thinks the anthology has different texts as well.

- Fiction bales with very egocentric issues. In particular, the young literature is more or less meaningless, he says.

The expansive, historical books have flagged out to the professional literature. In a country where one is no longer born with skis on their feet, but with pillows under their arms, is it perhaps not so strange to write cotton-soft prose?

- We apparently have few social things to deal with. It is difficult, for example, to write about war when you have never experienced it, says Carmona-Alvarez.

Instead, suicide and family tragedies, loneliness and closeness, loss, identification and prostitution are some topics for the fall. For example, writers such as Arne Lygre and Mirjam Kristensen explore the traditional narrative with relatively still, subtle novels.

Pedro Carmona-Alvarez finds it difficult to say whether we are now seeing a change of direction. But he hopes. Staffan Söderblom is safe in his case. Something new is coming.

- The small format is formally and narratively about to explode, there is nothing more to do with it, he says.

Ninni Holmqvist is not published in Norway, but in Sweden she is a kind of master of new short story art.

- She has gone from the small authorship that dealt with outsider identities, to examining the same issues in a large, socially critical context. I think this is a good example of a literary development that is starting now, says Söderblom.

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