From Publishers Weekly
Guilt, resentment and rivalry animate Lindgren's sparkling parable, a darkly humorous tale of two brothers and the tangled ties that bind them. In the remote reaches of northern Sweden, an unnamed traveling writer and lecturer on saints finds lodging in the home of Hadar, an elderly man dying of cancer. Although she plans to stay with Hadar for only one night, a blizzard extends her visit, and she becomes his caretaker. Hadar's brother, Olof, as obese as Hadar is thin, lives a field away and is dying of heart disease. It is only their hatred for each other that keeps the two alive. As winter turns to spring, and the writer still remains, she becomes a conduit for their acrimonious communication. It's a tangled web concerning Minna, the woman they both loved; Lars, the son they both claimed; and the hatred born when Lars and Minna died. Alternating Hadar and Olof's story with the account she is writing of St. ChristopherDshe hopes to capture the essence of both the legendary saint and the putative real personDthe writer explores the nature of human duality. The brilliance of this novel, in Geddes's elegant and seamless translation, is its ability to gracefully present an ironic and gripping account of sibling competition while, on a deeper level, grappling with the structure of love, personality and relationships. Lindgren (The Way of the Serpent; Light) is one of Sweden's most renowned writers of literary fiction, a fabulist who translates contemporary dilemmas into tongue-in-cheek folktales.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Sweetness, perhaps a fable or a parable, is written in an unadorned style that invites the reader to look for hidden meaning. A woman comes to a small rural town in northern Sweden to lecture on a religious philosophical topic. As is the custom, she will spend the night with one of the local households. Her host, elderly, ill with cancer, and alone, brings her to his remote farmhouse, where they are snowed in. She fits herself into his lifestyle, taking an attic room as hers and continuing her next writing project, a biography of St. Christopher. Her host's brother, living in the adjoining farm, is also dying but of a heart condition. One craves meat, the other only sugar. Neither will give the other the satisfaction of being the survivor. The woman takes care of them both in her way, and they in turn tell her stories of their past, of the woman they shared, and of their hatred for each other. Like Christopher, she carries their fate in her hands. A prizewinner in Sweden, this is simply written, elegantly translated, and thought-provoking. Danise Hoover
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