What about the stories of those who stayed home?
Author: Karin Erlandsson
Swedish original: Hem
Publisher: Schildts & Söderströms, 2021
Genre: literary fiction
Number of pages: 276 pp.
Reading material: Swedish original, English sample, English synopsis
A white ring encircles a round gray stone, like an eye. The stone stays on the windy, sea battered islands of south-western Finland through the centuries–much like those whose lot it has been to yearn, fear, and wait for those whom the sea gives back.
The stone travels from ninth-century Saltvik to present-day Mariehamn through the lives of ten women. These ordinary lives swell and dovetail into a meaningful history, the details into an epic story.
The inhabitants of the Åland Islands have set out to sea since the Stone Age, and stories about those who left and those who never returned abound. In her latest novel, Karin Erlandsson tells the story of the islands from a fresh perspective: as a history of the women and children who remained at home.
“Home is a powerful and moving collection of texts that cover the complete register of emotions. Karin Erlandsson has the gift of capturing an entire world in a single detail, to condense heart-bursting longing and restlessness into a single turned back or scoured floor.”
– National broadcasting company Svenska Yle
“[…] it’s a pleasure to let oneself be swept away by Erlandsson’s sure hand and her way of forming historical events from the perspective of the individual. She often hits the nail on the head when she describes how things feel, especially when they don’t feel good.”
– Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper
“Erlandsson certainly knows how to write. (…) The history of the Åland Islands is unique, and the island realm is a saga in and of itself. Between land and sea, between severed connections and endless routes arise archetypal struggles that bring our most essential feelings to the surface. (…) In the sea’s presence, the impossible, inhuman conditions of survival come to vivid life in Erlandsson’s hands. (…) Behind self-sufficiency there is loneliness, fragility, and vulnerability.”
– Åbo Underrättelser newspaper
“Erlandsson’s deftly interwoven narrative voices, which carry down over a millennium, are strong enough to knit the women’s fates into a credible whole.”
– Nya Åland newspaper
“People come and go, the mountains and the sea remain, and Home is a novel that leaves a mark on the memory. Karin Erlandsson offers story-telling in the grand style.”
– Österbottens tidning newspaper
“With its historical contexts, the expansive time frame could easily produce a fragmented and artificial result, but through small stylistic techniques Erlandsson succeeds in creating a whole that glitters like the sea on a calm summer day: the skillfully selected details and realistic-seeming dialogues shimmer on the surface while emotional depths yawn below. In these depths, relations between parents and children are depicted with particular perceptiveness. Historical reality may fluctuate, but the emotions arising from interpersonal relationships remain unchanged.”
– Nyt tid newspaper
Night Express (2020)
Song of the Eye Gemstone #1, The Pearl Fisher (2017)
Song of the Eye Gemstone #2, The Bird Master (2018)
Song of the Eye Gemstone #3, The Scaler of the Peaks (2019)
Song of the Eye Gemstone #4, The Victor (2019)
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