Pioneer Press: Swede Hollow

Review of Swede Hollow by Ola Larsmo

A riveting family saga immersed in the gritty, dark side of Swedish immigrant life in America in the early twentieth century

Swedish author Ola Larsmo had never heard of St. Paul’s historic Swede Hollow until his family made their first visit to Minnesota in 2006. The vanished community of poor immigrants, tucked in a deep wooded ravine on St. Paul’s East Side, so entranced Larsmo he’s written a novel, “Swede Hollow,” set in the settlement that was burned by the fire department in 1956 after the last residents had been moved. Today the area is a quiet, leafy city park, a place Larsmo describes as seeming to “exist outside time.”

Larsmo’s award-winning family saga, a bestseller in Sweden in 2016, is published now for the first time in English by University of Minnesota Press, known for championing Nordic literature. The translator is Tiina Nunnally, whose many translations from the Scandinavian language include Vidar Sundstol’s Minnesota Trilogy and “The Complete and Original Norwegian Folktales of Absjornsen and Moe,” both from UMP.


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