Sunday, October 27, 2019

Swede Hollow (Ola Larsmo)

Swede Hollow was a book that came across my husband’s radar about a month ago while he was reading up on news from his home state of Minnesota. He’s Swedish and loves history - a perfect combination for a historical fiction tale that highlights the tribulations, trials, and some successes of early Swedish immigrants to Minnesota.

Swede Hollow, written initially in Swedish by Ola Larsmo in 2016, was recently translated into English by Tiina Nunnally and subsequently published by the University of Minnesota Press. The book focuses on the Klar family, who emigrated from Sweden to New York and subsequently to Minnesota in the 1890s. Over the course of sixty years, we see the focus of the family and their squatter neighborhood in St. Paul. This neighborhood was eventually demolished in the 1950s and is now a park; however, for nearly a century it was the home of immigrants from a host of countries, most notably the namesake of the hollow, Sweden. The Klar family’s trials and tribulations as new Americans is woven through historical facts and events that parallel the timeline of the book. 

Larsmo’s work is very solid in quality and depth. For those who have Scandinavian heritage and live in or have family ties to Minnesota, it is certainly worth a read into seeing what Swedes in the Minnesota of 1900 lived through and in some cases, in, as part of their initial years here in America.