More writing in translation and if a book is voted Book of the Century by an entire nation then it's worth more than a glance.
The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg is the book in question and Sweden is the nation and what a good read it was.So much of today's required reading is laced with deep and hidden cleverness and as a reader you feel honour bound to scrunch up your brain cells and search it out. I love a bit of that in depth stuff but every so often I like a good, honest, straightforward family saga read.
The last one I read in this vein was Brothers, Bernice Rubens' novel of 4 generations of her Jewish family history from Russia in 1825 to the post war Gulags, via Odessa, the Welsh valleys and German concentration camps. It was all- embracing and just took over my reading life to the exclusion of all else.It was the book Bernice was proudest of and urged anyone who read her work to please read this one.Good for reading around the holocaust if like me you can't quite face the head on confrontational approach but still feel you want to try and understand.I'll share more of those reads soon, Carmen Callil's Bad Faith has dropped me right back in that strange territory.
The Emigrants is similar, perfectly straight forward saga telling, knowable characters given every chance to make themselves familiar to you, with Moberg's style of allowing each one a chance to occasionally give an inner dialogue on events from their own perspective. It is 1850, Karl Oskar and Kristina have sold up in Sweden and just set foot in New York after a fairly rigorous trans-Atalantic crossing and I have volume two Unto a Good Land ready and waiting and a further two to follow.Plenty of revealing background on Vilhelm Moberg in the introduction all adds to the enjoyment of the book.
Karl Oskar and Kristina are as big in Lindstrom, Minnesota as they are in Sweden, I gather, where July 5th-9th are dedicated Karl Oskar Days. The couple have statues to their fictional memory in both countries.
I'm now trying to muster up some statues of fictional characters here in the UK and not doing very well, suddenly I can only come up with Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, there must be more surely?