Friday, September 12, 2008
Question for Åsa Larsson fans
I'm reading Åsa Larsson's newly translated Black Path, which deals obliquely with an issue that one would think would be central to any crime series about the far north of Sweden: ethnic diversity. Of the Swedish crime novels that have been translated, it seems that only Kerstin Ekman's deal with the interface between Sami and Swedish populations. Though The Black Path does bring up the issue, it's a bit difficult for readers of the translated version, or at least readers not familiar with common names in the populations involved, to quite catch the nuances. Some of the characters in Larsson's novel are clearly Sami (or were raised in that community), others are Finnish (in terms of language at least), but the Sami cross the Swedish/Finnish border, so perhaps some of them (what we would have called Lapplanders formerly) use Finnish and Finnish names. So can anyone clarify for me what role the Sami/Finnish/Swedish distinctions play in Larsson's novel? Or at least who in the novel comes from Finnish and Sami backgrounds? Just to be clear, I think The Black Path is a very good book, better perhaps than the first two in Larsson's series--I just can't quite catch how this particular subtlety of language, names, and culture (which very evidently deepens the novel's texture) works exactly. My review follows soon, and I promise any advice I get on this subject will be duly credited.