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Popular Music from Vittulaby Mikael Niemi
Synopses & Reviews
“A blissfully eccentric, fiction-enhanced memoir. . . . His prose buzzes with wonder, fearlessness and ecstatic ignorance: the sensations of youth. Each chapter is an epic in miniature.”—Hugo Lindgren, The New York Times Magazine
“Haunting and glorious . . . Niemi’s finest achievement is to have created a world poised between an adult’s fantastic memories of childhood and a child’s nave dreams of his future. Graceless sentiments like disillusionment or regret are never allowed to trespass upon Pajala’s icy rivers and twilit woods. The future remains a frantic hallucination, while the past is absurd and wondrous.”—Nathaniel Rich, Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Popular Music from Vittula is a tale of boyhood friendship elastic enough to include numerous digressions, some fantastical, some so precise in their sociological observation . . . that an anthropologist could make good use of them. . . . In British translator Laurie Thompson’s hands, Niemi’s language is a constant, fresh poetic surprise. . . . Even the alphabet—‘a scary army of sticks and half-moons’—comes strangely alive in this marvelous book.”—Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times
“A beautiful, poignant, often very funny novel about growing up in a remote area. Niemi writes with real poetry as he strings together the culturally rich vignettes of Matti’s experiences, snapshots of childhood that are at the same time intensely personal and universal . . . An exquisitely beautiful novel, artfully translated.”—Paula Luedkte, Booklist
Now in paperback, the enchanting, unforgettable Popular Music from Vittula is the single best-selling book in Swedish history.
Poet and novelist Mikael Niemi grew up in Pajala in the northernmost part of Sweden, near the Finnish border. He is the founding owner of Pajala’s sole bookstore.
Laurie Thompson has translated some 15 novels from the Swedish.
Popular Music from Vittula tells the fantastical story of a young boy's unordinary existence, peopled by a visiting African priest, a witch in the heart of the forest, cousins from Missouri, an old Nazi, a beautiful girl with a black Volvo, silent men and tough women, achampion-bicyclist music teacher with a thumb in the middle of his hand-and, not least, on a shiny vinyl disk, the Beatles.
The story unfolds in sweltering wood saunas; amidst chain thrashings and gang warfare; learning to play the guitar in the garage; over a traditional wedding meal; on the way to China; during drinking competitions; while learning secret languages, playing ice hockey surrounded by snow drifts, outsmarting mice, discovering girls, staging a first rock concert, peeing in the snow, skiing under a sparkling midnight sky.
More generally, Popular Music from Vittula offers a tender glimpse into a less trendy Sweden: Miles away from the urbane Stockholm or fashionable Malm
About the Author
Mikael Niemi was born in 1959 and grew up in Pajala in the northernmost part of Sweden, near the Finnish border. He began to write poetry and short stories when he was fifteen years old. Among his published books are two collections of poetry--N
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