What we read can influence our thoughts, dreams and goals. Stories are powerful and so, too, are storytellers. Grab a book written by a strong woman who speaks her mind and you can be sure of a read free from meek female characters waiting in the background for a prince to save them!
Join Girls’ Globe on a global book tour of female authors translated into English. Our first stop is Sweden – here are five writers who are sure to serve you spellbinding stories.
All of Karolina Ramqvist’s writing is political. She is one of Sweden’s most well-known contemporary feminist writers, unafraid to spell out uncomfortable truths. Her style is simple and elegant, while the content is raw and fiery. Read the psychological The White City, about former gangster’s girlfriend, Karin, who suddenly finds herself alone with a baby and a pile of bills she can’t pay. The reader follows Karin’s fall from luxury housewife to abandoned single mother as she starts selling of her Louis Vuitton handbags to be able to afford food and heating.
When Sara Stridsberg’s Swedish translation of Valeria Solana’s SCUM manifesto was published, her name was suddenly on everyone’s lips – just as much for her angry and powerful preface as for the translated work. Sara originally studied law, but decided to pursue writing after graduation. Today, she is part of the Swedish Academy, the organization that hands out the Nobel Prize in literature, and her work has been translated into several languages. Her novel The Gravity of Love is a haunting and glittering gem set in a psychiatric hospital inhabited by lost souls.
I have to admit that before the release of Wilful Disregard – a love story by Lena Andersson, I didn’t know who she was. But then – BAAM! – this book came out and everyone in Sweden read it, discussed it, disagreed over it. Just how awful can one man be without crossing all the lines? Was Ester a pushover, or just a victim of love? The story of Ester’s toxic, all-consuming love with older man Hugo is a painful, beautifully written, spot-on and sometimes very frustrating read.
White Blight by the poet Athena Farrokzhad has a mirror cover, showing me a blurred image of myself. Who am I? Inside the cover, a family awaits; a family that each describe the same event – involuntary leaving your home country – from different viewpoints. There is hurt, fear and anger mingling with hope, beauty and love. I was totally floored the first time I read it, and I still keep my copy by my bed so that I can go back to it again and again.
When I read Elin Wägner for the first time, I was amazed by how modern her writing was. She is one of the most important feminists in Sweden; a journalist and writer who lived in Stockholm in the early 20th century. A hundred years later, I can still relate to her stories where the struggle for respect, finding one’s place in the world and fighting for the same rights as our male colleagues play an important role. Wägner has recently been translated into several languages, and her beautiful, witty writing is really an inspirational must-read!
There are, of course. many more great women writers in and from Sweden – do you have a favorite?
Cover photo credit: Josh Applegate