Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Princess of Burundi

This is a crime novel by Kjell Eriksson that appeared in Sweden in 2006. There are lots of good things to say about it, starting with its great psychology of everyday life. At one point the cops are sitting around trying to figure out of two murder cases are actually connected, and one of them, named Berglund, says this about an older working-class guy, Oskar Pettersson, he's just been talking with:
"There is a kind of culturedness that exists apart from the kind transmitted by schools and universities, and Oskar Pettersson represents this educated culture. Once upon a time I think this kind of culture flourished in the neighborhood where Little John grew up, and it helped to stem the flow of today's lawlessness. Of course, there were scum in the fifties and sixties, but there was also a social resistance that is lacking today."
"What kind of resistance?" Sammy asked.
"Something upheld by normal people, but also by the authorities."
"Sweden isn't how it was," Riis agreed. "There's a lot of new folk now, that's bound to lead to trouble."
Berglund turned his head and looked at Riis.
"I know you don't like immigrants, but both Little John and Vincent Hahn are products of Swedish social democratic policy, our so-called People's Home. I think it is the isolation of individuals in our country that breaks them. The gap between people's dreams and the potential to get off track is too large. What was it we once dreamed of, what did Oskar Petterson dream of?"

Good questions.


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