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Per Gunnar Evander,
Plötsligt medan dimman lättar
(Suddenly While the Mist is Lifting)
Bonniers, 2002. ISBN: 9100580295
Reviewed by Rick McGregor in SBR 2003:1
Per Gunnar Evander has over thirty books listed on the verso of the title page of this work, the majority of them novels. I have read most of them, and must confess to feeling that there has been much of a sameness over the last dozen. While waiting for the review copy of Evander’s latest novel, Suddenly While the Mist Is Lifting, I had read some Swedish reviews and had formed the impression that this would be more of the same.
Not so. True, an Evander novel is (almost always) an Evander novel. The themes of loneliness, silence, love, suicide and death in general – these things are ever-present in Evander’s works. But here one gets less of a feeling that Evander is writing by rote, perhaps because in the decade since 1993 he has only published 3 books, rather than the book a year he produced in the three decades after his debut in 1965.
I found instead that this novel was a return to what made a number of Evander’s works from the 1970s so memorable. I don’t mean such pseudo-documentary novels as Uppkomlingarna (his breakthrough work) and Tegelmästare Lundin och stora världen, but rather his psychological novels such as En kärleksroman and Fallet Lillemor Holm. These are novels which explore the typical Evanderesque themes in his particularly distinctive style, often described as “bureaucratic Swedish”. The tension between the emotional involvement of the subject matter and the apparent detachment of the seemingly objective language used to describe it are much of the appeal of Evander’s works in the original, but also what make them fiendishly difficult to translate. Here’s an attempt by way of illustration: “It is of course not impossible that in friendship with another human being there may be revealed hidden languages and directions of travel towards something that could be called, or may even be, self-knowledge.”
In Suddenly While the Mist Is Lifting (a recognisably Evanderesque title), the narrator has been invited to talk on the topic of loneliness to a group of pensioners. The book describes his preparations for the talk, as well as his experiences in hospital where he spends some time while being treated for a sleep disorder. At the hospital he makes the acquaintance of Fransson, a retired teacher who is a fellow patient, and one of the latter’s former pupils, Jonny Forsman, now one of the hospital’s orderlies. In a trope that is recognisable from elsewhere in the Evander canon, it transpires that Fransson has crushed Jonny’s dreams of becoming a writer, but has no memory of having done so. (One is reminded of similar recriminations between Robert and his father in Mån-dagarna med Fanny). In the course of a number of long walks from the hospital the narrator becomes friends with Jonny, but is as unable as the psychologist Sulan in Fallet Lillemor Holm to prevent his fate.
Per Gunnar Evander has started to find his way back to what he does best with this short novel which in many ways works too as a philosophical essay on the theme of loneliness and on the individual’s search for a place in this world.
Also by Per Gunnar Evander
Other reviews by Rick McGregor
- Per Olov Enquist, Liknelseboken: En kärleksroman (The Book of Parables: A Romantic Novel). Reviewed in SBR 2013:2.
- Ellen Mattson, Vinterträdet (The Winter Tree). Reviewed in SBR 2013:1.
- Amanda Svensson, Välkommen till den här världen: (Welcome to This World:). Reviewed in SBR 2012:1.
- Lukas Moodysson, Döden & Co. (Death & Co). Reviewed in SBR 2011:2.
- Sara Stridsberg, Darling River: Doloresvariationer (Darling River: Dolores Variations). Reviewed in SBR 2011:1.
- David Lagerkrantz, Himmel över Everest (The Sky Over Everest). Reviewed in SBR 2006:1.
- Stig Claesson, Sekonderna lämnar ringen (Seconds Out of the Ring). Reviewed in SBR 2006:1.
- Lars Ardelius and Carin Svensson, Hammarens slag och hjärtats: roman om de första Vallonerna (Hammer blows and heartbeats: a novel about the first of the Walloons). Reviewed in SBR 2005:1.
- Carin Svensson, Silversalt (Silver Nitrate). Reviewed in SBR 2002:2.
- Carin Svensson, Kanonväder (Fantastic Weather). Reviewed in SBR 2001:1.
- Carin Svensson, Kalenderflickorna: nio noveller (The Calendar Girls: Nine Short Stories). Reviewed in SBR 1999:1.
- Per Svensson, Frostviken: Ett reportage om Per Olof Sundman, nazismen och tigandet. Reviewed in SBR 1998:2.
- Per Olof Sundman, Jägarna och andra berättelser från Norrland (The Hunters and other stories from Norrland). Reviewed in SBR 1998:2.
- Klas Östergren, Med stövlarna på och andra berättelser (With One's Boots On and Other Stories). Reviewed in SBR 1998:2.
- Tove Jansson, Anteckningar från en ö (Notes from an Island). Reviewed in SBR 1996:2.
Other reviews in SBR 2003:1
- Gerda Antti, Livet skriver kapitel (Life Writes its Chapters). Reviewed by Sarah Death.
- Majgull Axelsson, En stad av slott (A City of Castles). Reviewed by Linda Schenck.
- Ernst Brunner, Fukta din aska. C M Bellmans liv från början till slut (Moisten Your Mortal Ashes. C M Bellman's Life from Beginning to End). Reviewed by Birgitta Thompson.
- Stewe Claeson, Rönndruvan glöder (The Rowan's Cluster Glows). Reviewed by Charles Harrison-Wallace.
- Stig Claesson, Efter oss syndafloden (Après nous le déluge). Reviewed by Henning Koch.
- Åke Edwardson, Segel av sten (Sails of Stone). Reviewed by Irene Scobbie.
- Anna Ehn, Man ska vara tyst när man önskar (Make a Silent Wish). Reviewed by Sarah Death.
- Theodor Kallifatides, Den sjätte pasageraren (The Sixth Passenger). Reviewed by Peter Linton.
- Maaret Koskinen, I begynnelsen var ordet: Ingmar Bergman och hans tidiga författarskap (In the Beginning Was the Word: Ingmar Bergman and his early writings). Reviewed by Annika Lindskog.
- Björn Larsson, Den sanna berättelsen om Inga Andersson (The True Story of Inga Andersson). Reviewed by Tom Geddes.
- Ulla-Lena Lundberg, Marsipansoldaten (The Marzipan Soldier). Reviewed by Silvester Mazzarella.
- Henning Mankell, Innan frosten (Before the Frost). Reviewed by Laurie Thompson.
- Jan Myrdal, Gubbsjuka. Reviewed by Eivor Martinus.
- Cilla Neumann, Dem oss skyldiga äro (Those Who Trespass Against Us). Reviewed by Linda Schenck.
- Håkan Nesser, Kära Agnes! (Dear Agnes!). Reviewed by Stig Olsson.
- Johanna Nilsson, Rebell med frusna fötter (Rebel With Frozen Feet). Reviewed by Sarah Death.
- Elisabeth Rynell, Till Mervas (To Mervas). Reviewed by Irene Scobbie.
- Niklas Rådström, Kvartett (Quartet). Reviewed by Anne Born.
- Friedrich Strindberg, Under jorden i Berlin (Underground in Berlin). Reviewed by Eivor Martinus.
- Jerker Virdborg, Svart krabba (Black Crab). Reviewed by Stig Olsson.
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