Matti and his quiet friend Niila grow up in Vittula, a little town with lots of children, in the far north of Sweden. This is the '60s and '70s, the dirt roads are finally being paved, the small farmsteads are being abandoned, and rock music enters the scene with a crash. Against a backdrop of an older generation suspicious of these modern things, Popular Music from Vittula is 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, a champion-bicyclist music teacher with a thumb in the middle of his hand-and, not least, on a shiny vinyl disk, the Beatles.
Miles away from urbane Stockholm or fashionable Malm in the south, Vittula is almost another universe, surrounded by tundra and taiga, forest and potato field. Growing up amid cultural tensions between a traditional, deeply religious north and a more modernized south, our young hero and his friends discover their way in this ever-changing, never-changing land.
The story unfolds in sweltering wood saunas; amidst chain thrashings and gang warfare; in a Communist gathering hall; 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; and skiing under a sparkling midnight sky-in language that is sweet and humorous and lively and sad.
Mikael Niemi has published two collections of poetry-Nsblod under hgmssan (Nosebleed During Morning Service, 1998) and nglar med mausergevr (Angels with Mausers, 1989)-and a young adult novel, Kyrkdjvulen (The Church Devil, 1994). This is his first adult novel.
Laurie Thompson (Translator) has translated some fif-teen novels from the Swedish, including books by Stig Dagerman, Peter Pohl, and Kjell-Olof Bornemark. He lives in West Wales.
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