Popular Music From Vittula (2003) This is the best crazy-teens-in-Sweden novel you've never heard of. Hell, it's the natural successor to The Catcher in the Rye -- assuming Holden Caulfield… 2003-10-01 Fiction
Book Review

Popular Music From Vittula (2003)

EW's GRADE
A

Details Release Date: Oct 01, 2003; Writer: Mikael Niemi; Genre: Fiction

This is the best crazy-teens-in-Sweden novel you've never heard of. Hell, it's the natural successor to The Catcher in the Rye -- assuming Holden Caulfield grew up just above the Arctic Circle on the dotted line where Swedes speak a rocky Finnish dialect and can describe the ritual of a blistering communal sauna with ribald gusto. It's a singular anthropological dispatch from a permanently frozen Lake Wobegon, and a tribute to the power of international pop culture as sensitive to local home culture as Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. His senses busted open by a Beatles album (and the song ''Ollyu nidis lav''), the young hero of Niemi's earthy story mixes up vignettes of childhood -- a funeral, a wedding, sexual fever, fundamentalist religion -- into a dazzling pop album all his own. We can only imagine the punch of the original Swedish text; Laurie Thompson's zinging English translation is its own kind of rock & roll heaven.

Originally posted May 21, 2004 Published in issue #766 May 21, 2004 Order article reprints