Popular Music From Vittula ─ A Novel
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Popular Music from Vittula tells the fantastical story of a young boy's unordinary existence, peopled by a visiting African priest, a witch in the heart of the forest, cousins from Missouri, an old Nazi, a beautiful girl with a black Volvo, silent men and tough women, a champion-bicyclist music teacher with a thumb in the middle of his hand—and, not least, on a shiny vinyl disk, the Beatles.
The story unfolds in sweltering wood saunas, amidst chain thrashings and gang warfare, learning to play the guitar in the garage, over a traditional wedding meal, on the way to China, during drinking competitions, while learning secret languages, playing ice hockey surrounded by snow drifts, outsmarting mice, discovering girls, staging a first rock concert, peeing in the snow, skiing under a sparkling midnight sky. In the manner of David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green, Mikael Niemi tells a story of a rural Sweden at once foreign and familiar, as a magical childhood slowly fades with the seasons into adult reality.
Mikael Niemi was born in 1959 and grew up in Pajala in the northernmost part of Sweden, near the Finnish border. He began to write poetry and short stories when he was fifteen years old. Among his published books are two collections of poetry--Nasblod under hogmassan ("Nosebleed during Morning Service") (1998) and Anglar med mausergevar ("Angels with Mausers") (1989)--and a young adult novel, Kyrkdjavulen ("The Church Devil") (1994). This is his first novel.