Any overview of a country’s contemporary literature throws up an inescapable paradox. The works that serve as the best examples in any account of “the current situation” are rarely the most artistically convincing. These representative books draw their strength precisely from the fact that they are so representative – from the ease with which reviewers can draw obvious parallels between literature and its directly political, social, or whatever, context. It is these titles, too, that attract the most attention at the time of publication. They are ripe subjects for media debates and are keenly discussed by commentators who have not read them but are more than happy to express opinions on them, since the concepts they contain are familiar and topical.
One example was Sisela Lindblom’s novel De skamlösa (The shameless, 2007), which, in conjunction with an interview with the author, sparked off the “cultural debate” of last autumn. It was all about handbags. Immensely expensive designer bags as symbols of an absurd consumer culture. The question of whether it can be considered reasonable to spend 40 000 Swedish kronor (approx. 4000 euros) on a handbag became a frame of reference for everything from globalization to gender perspectives.
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