After the millennium, globalization and the migration of women from economically unstable countries to the West became a theme in literature. The conception of a global sisterhood was challenged by the reality that many encounters with “other” foreign women were manifestly encounters between an employer and a domestic worker and thereby entailed a superior-inferior relationship. Reflections upon the unequal power relation between women from the Nordic region and their oppressed “sisters” is expressed through au-pair novels, literature about female refugees as well as docuseries and comic strips about the encounter with oppressed women from outside Europe. Examples of authors working with these issues in a literary context are Kirsten Hammann, Sara Kadefors Aasne Linnestå and Åsne Seiersted.
During the 2000s, the biographical and self-biographical narratives of the 1970s were replaced by new hybrid forms that operated in the space between fact and fiction. The genre was employed by both male and female authors, but the female authors in particular, were criticized for transgressing the private sphere in exhibitionist ways.Female exponents of autofiction are, amongst others, Maja Lundgren, Carina Rydberg, Suzanne Brøgger, Anne Lise Marstrand-Jørgensen and Herbjørg Wassmo.
Around the turn of the 21st century, a new author function arises – also called a seminaut, meaning somebody who perceives the world as accessible material that can be collected and re-worked. The author’s body and private life are understood neither as fundamentally irrelevant nor per definition relevant but rather as material that can be recycled. Exponents of this writing style include, Christina Hagen, Mona Høvring, Athena Farrokhzad and Niviaq Korneliussen.
Contemporary Nordic narratives of insanity and psychiatry are about gender-ambivalence and creativity. Unlike before, much contemporary literature is concerned with how to fundamentally break away from gender in a bid to rediscover a pre-gender condition, where the gendered body and sexual desire are not one and the same.Exponents for this literary tendency are, amongst others, Lotte Inuk, Christel Wiinblad, Beate Grimsrud and Linda Boström Knausgård.
From the millennium onwards, the literary scene is populated with new voices that explore themes such as, racism, whiteness, gender, adoption and migration. What the authors have in common is the use of their minority position to reflect over the experience of having a linguistic and cultural double-identity. Maja Lee Langvad, Eva Tind, Athena Farrokhzad and Jonas Hassen Khemiri are among exponents of these new voices.
During the 1970s, Agneta Pleijel was one of the leaders of the generation of critics that stood up for a new literature that was to be better adapted to society. Like Anna Westberg, she takes her starting point in the aesthetics and ethical ideals that were prevalent in the 1970s. But where the ethical ideals were maintained through the oeuvres of both Pleijel and Westberg, an almost immediate distancing from the predominant realistic aesthetics took place.In the beginning of the 1980s their style became far more tentative and fragmentary. They abandoned objectivity and surrendered instead to a more lofty tone and deeper resonance in their works, which were initially light and optimistic about development and now gradually darken.
A Literary Debate on Motherhood
Three female Finland-Swedish authors who are generally included among the second wave of modernists began writing in Helsinki during the 1930s: Solveig von Schoultz, Mirjam Tuominen, and Eva Wichman. The war sliced through their lives and rewrote the terms of their careers.They explored new means of describing their experience, renewed the short story genre, and modified modernist poetry in various ways. Schoultz turned the spotlight on what she later called “society’s smallest cell, interpersonal relationships”, while Tuominen illumined the fundamental ethical issues of the age with the passion of Cassandra, and Wichman – whom the war radicalised – wrote political battle songs.
Anna Bondestam took up literature after a Nordic novel competition in 1936 in which her debut novel, Panik i Rölleby (1936; Panic in Rölleby), was the runner-up. Klyftan (1946; The Chasm), Bondestam’s autobiographical novel, reaches into the most intimate corner of her life: her childhood experiences of the Finnish Civil War in Jakobstad in 1918.As an account of the civil war, Klyftan is a harbinger of the more open approach that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. Read as a trilogy, Vägen till staden, Stadens bröd, and Klyftan are not only a journey through changing Finnish society, but an uncelebrated slice of women’s history: the lives and political education of factory workers.
One of Astrid Lindgren’s most effective techniques is to let imagination engulf reality. The interpretation of the world by a ‘lying’ child triumphs. The most extravagant childish dream of omnipotence comes true in the story of Pippi. With irrefutable logic, Lindgren demonstrates what a solitary child needs to avoid being crushed in a world of hard-headed pragmatism.Most of Lindgren’s writing inhabits the borderland of reality and fantasy. While some of her works are demonstrably realistic, they are nevertheless about the ability of fanciful children to live in a world of play and imagination. Lindgren’s sensitivity to children’s feelings and perspectives, along with her uncompromising willingness to take their side, is a modernist trait that links her work to the radical psychology of permissive child rearing that made inroads in Sweden between the wars.