Sweden

The Room

“Hilarious and chilling.” -Times of London

“Daily grind got you down? Escape into this Swedish dark comedy.” -O, the Oprah Magazine, Ten Titles to Pick Up Now

”Bjorn is a compulsive, meticulous bureaucrat who discovers a secret room at the government office where he works—a secret room that no one else in his office will acknowledge. When Bjorn is in his room, what his co-workers see is him standing by the wall and staring off into space looking dazed, relaxed, and decidedly creepy. Bjorn's bizarre behavior eventually leads his co-workers to try and have him fired, but Bjorn will turn the tables on them with help from his secret room.

Debut author Jonas Karlsson doesn't leave a word out of place in this brilliant, bizarre, delightful take on how far we will go—in a world ruled by conformity—to live an individual and examined life.”

(Suggested by Beth McCrea, book club co-founder.)

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The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

The international publishing sensation--over six million copies sold worldwide!

A reluctant centenarian much like Forrest Gump (if Gump were an explosives expert with a fondness for vodka) decides it's not too late to start over . . .

After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).

It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle. Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Nicole Viola Hinz-Schouwstra for the suggestion.)

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A Darker Shade of Sweden

“A wonderful collection of stories by Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, and over a dozen other masters of Nordic noir.

Ever since Stieg Larsson shone a light on Swedish crime writing with his Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, readers around the world have devoured fiction by Scandinavian masters of suspense. A Darker Shade of Sweden includes an assortment of outstanding crime fiction—never before published in English and in some cases brand-new to this volume—from Larsson and a wide range of other talents including Henning Mankell, the creator of Kurt Wallander; Åsa Larsson; Eva Gabrielsson; Inger Frimansson; Åke Edwardson; Sara Stridsberg; Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö; and more. Also included is an introduction by Edgar nominee John-Henri Holmberg, exploring the history of these stellar authors and their contributions to crime writing.”

“Gripping. . . . These unsettlingly dark tales reaffirm the dominance of Swedish writers with original crime fiction.” -The Sun (UK)

Side note: We recommend reading just the wonderful stories themselves & not the background info supplied for each story. Many find the editor’s end-notes repetitious & unnecessary.

(A special thank you to book club member, Elke Richards for the suggestion.)

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Jagannath

“I have never read anything like Jagannath. Omnious...funny…and mysteriously tender. These are wonderful stories." -Ursula K. Le Guin

“An award-winning story collection by an heir to Borges, Le Guin, & Lovecraft.

A child is born in a tin can. A switchboard operator finds himself in hell. Three corpulent women float somewhere beyond time. Welcome to the weird world of Karin Tidbeck, the visionary Swedish author of literary sci-fi, speculative fiction, and mind-bending fantasy who has captivated readers around the world. Originally published by the tiny press Cheeky Frawg—the passion project of Ann and Jeff VanderMeer—Jagannath has been celebrated by readers and critics alike, with rave reviews from major outlets and support from lauded peers like China Miéville and even Ursula K. Le Guin herself. These are stories in which fairies haunt quiet towns, and an immortal being discovers the nature of time—stories in which anything is possible.”

(Suggested by Mia DeGiovine Chaveco, book club co-founder)

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The Road to Jerusalem

“A brilliant depiction of medieval times, centered in the land that would become Sweden.

Already an international sensation, The Road to Jerusalem by Jan Guillou is the epic story of the Knights Templar. A major bestseller in Europe—with more than two million copies sold in Sweden alone—and the basis for the most lavish and expensive Swedish film ever made (check out the movie with English dialog on Amazon), it is a novel Diana Gabaldon  calls, ‘beautifully constructed…skillfully written and translated.’ Historical fiction lovers, particularly fans of the sweeping, bestselling adventure novels of Bernard Cornwell, will be captivated by this magnificent tale of romance, faith, and battle set against the backdrop of the Crusades.

For power. For passion. For glory.”

“An appealing new twist on the Crusades approaching the Knights Templar and the Holy Wars from the Swedish point of view. “ - Booklist

(Suggested by Beth McCrea, book club co-founder.)

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The Unit

“I liked The Unit very much...I know you will be riveted, as I was.” -Margaret Atwood

A modern day classic and a chilling cautionary tale for fans of The Handmaid's Tale. Named a Best Book of the Month by GQ.

“Echoing work by Marge Piercy and Margaret Atwood, The Unit is as thought-provoking as it is compulsively readable.” -Jessica Crispin, NPR

”Ninni Holmqvist’s uncanny dystopian novel envisions a society in the not-so-distant future, where women over 50 and men over 60 who are unmarried and childless are sent to a retirement community called the Unit. They’re given lavish apartments set amongst beautiful gardens and state-of-the-art facilities; they’re fed elaborate gourmet meals, surrounded by others just like them. It’s an idyllic place, but there’s a catch: the residents—known as dispensables—must donate their organs, one by one, until the final donation. When Dorrit Weger arrives at the Unit, she resigns herself to this fate, seeking only peace in her final days. But she soon falls in love, and this unexpected, improbable happiness throws the future into doubt.”

(Suggested by Mia DeGiovine Chaveco, book club co-founder)

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Quicksand

“A stunning and poignant autobiographical look at the myriad experiences that shape a meaningful life, by the bestselling author of the Kurt Wallander mysteries.  
 
In January 2014, Henning Mankell received a diagnosis of lung cancer. Quicksand is a response to this shattering news—but it is not a memoir of destruction. Instead, it is a testament to a life fully lived, a tribute to the extraordinary but fleeting human journey that delivers both boundless opportunity and crucial responsibility. In a series of intimate vignettes, Mankell ranges over rich and varied reflections: of growing up in a small Swedish town, where he experiences a startling revelation on a winter morning as a young boy; of living hand-to-mouth during a summer in Paris as an ambitious young writer; of his work at a theater in Mozambique, where Lysistrata is staged in the midst of civil war; of chance encounters with men and women who changed his understanding of the world. Along the way, Mankell ponders the meaning of a good life, and the critically important ways we can shape the future of humanity if we are fortunate enough to have the choice. Vivid, clear-eyed, and breathtakingly beautiful, Quicksand is an invaluable parting gift from a great man.”

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Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In Takes Top Honors at Tribeca Film Festival and is now an Award-winning movie in both the U.S. and Sweden!

It is autumn 1981 when inconceivable horror comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenager is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day. But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik's Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night.

Sweeping top honors at film festivals all over the globe, director Tomas Alfredsson's film of Let the Right One In has received the same kind of spectacular raves that have been lavished on the book. American and Swedish readers of vampire fiction will be thrilled! Following the success in Sweden, this movie was remade starring Kodi Smit Mcpheem, Chloe Grace Moretz and Richard Jenkins under the new title Let Me In. The story has continued to reach new viewers in a London Musical and the book remains a vampire favorite among its readers.”

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

"'It did no good to cry, she had learned that early on. She had also learned that every time she tried to make someone aware of something in her life, the situation just got worse. Consequently it was up to her to solve her problems by herself, using whatever methods she deemed necessary.' ― The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue combine into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel, the first in Stieg Larsson's thrilling Millenium series featuring Lisbeth Salander.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption."

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