J önköping summer in 1948. the worst raskravallerna in Swedish history – the so-called “tattarkravallerna” – takes place. Frantic race for travelers means that armed men burst into the people’s homes, beating them, and – ultimately – drive them away. The press and the authorities down on the mob site, Småland Folkblad publish even a tribute poem in their honor.
The events are still relatively unknown in Sweden, not a given element in the teaching of history exactly, but in recent years has been more attention through research, documentaries and reportage. The riots are also depicted in fiction, as in Majgull Axelsson’s novel “My name is not Miriam.” In Thom Lundberg’s debut novel is raskravallerna in Jönköping both springboard and unprocessed trauma to the story of the family Klosterman.
Shortly after events in the Baltic in Jönköping forced the family Klosterman fleeing beats down in a small cabin outside a Halland pit, with the fictitious name Silte Mill. Thom Lundberg’s novel about traveling people’s history in Sweden depicts a time, the first half of the 1950s, when the country is characterized by the development and the future of large parts of the majority population, but of persecution and safety of the passengers.
Amandus Klosterman which until then had lived a life that traders along the road, is ambivalent to become resident and moreover at a time when developments rushing forward. His horse and carriage, as well as the items he sells, is quickly becoming obsolete in an era when more and more acquire car and new materials, such as plastic, makes its entrance on the market. The wife Severina and sons Olof Valentin finds easier to terms – with their dreams of organized life – but even those are clashes between the old traveling culture and anpassligheten to the majority society living palpable and sometimes painful.
At the center of “for what grief and pain” – the title is borrowed from one of the Romani people’s old songs – is precisely Olof and Valentin. During these years, they go from being two little boys to enter the adult world, where they variously trying to find their place. Olof, the oldest and most generous, is the one who will follow his father out of work, while the inbundne and younger Valentin most engaged in picking his bokmärkesask. When Amandus assiduous boozing and business failures finally makes him inept head of the family is the young boys at a crossroads: honesty and shot life or drunkenness and lawlessness? They do not make the same choice.
Thom Lundberg, born in 1978, grew up among Romani people outside Kristianstad and writes thus his novel about the traveling people’s history in Sweden with his own origins as base – a lineage, he all his life asked hide . Nothing says that it necessarily improves the literature of such an inside perspective, but in Lundberg’s case marked the dichotomy faced and the love of the Romani culture he grew up in, not only does he initiated; the novel is also driven by a passion.
A clear ambition is to contribute with the stories – traveling people – who were not enrolled in literary history when they should have been there, namely when classic, Swedish working writers wrote about previously neglected groups in society. It may be a somewhat precarious basis for a writer of fiction – a novel that would complement the historiography always risking to be something of a party pleading – and certainly noticed that “For what grief and pain” have some educational element. But at the very most successful Lundbergs a tightrope; His story, which weaves together the 50 talsnuet with tall tales and stories from hundreds of years back in time, draw a composite portrait of the Traveller community and their often painful encounters between cultures. Lundberg beautify and romanticize not, but takes pains to portray human life in all its complexity will linger with me.
“For what grief and pain” is the wide epic narrative appropriation, and thereby tie than to large parts of the works of literary tradition, it wants to belong. The prose is simple and clear, realistic poetic elements, but gets its characteristic style of all the elements in Romani breaking the Swede. Initially, I must admit, it is somewhat of an annoyance with all these words I do not understand. Lundberg has not provided his novel with any vocabulary ( “Romani is a Swedish minority, they should not have to explain,” the author said in an interview here in SvD), without relying on the reader to understand the context.
Also it is a risky starting point. To begin with the reading more about understanding individual words than to pay attention to the story, but as you get to know Kloster’s better and better, learn also to know the language. And what is the language, if not an excellent entry to the past and a bridge between people?