PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewAlthough it has been described in the Swedish press as a feat of allegory, Son of Svea has very little interest in hidden meanings. Ragnar isn’t a symbol of the welfare state; he is its literal manifestation, a relation, Andersson suggests, like biological inheritance ... While reading, I wondered at times if the conceit needed to be so explicit. Novels, especially those concerned with allegory, are sustained on suspension of disbelief, but the simultaneity, for example, of Elsa’s declaration of independence and the falling of the Berlin Wall seemed an unnecessary, if astute, convenience. In any case, such moments pale in the swell of the novel’s circuitous, laugh-out-loud wit, adroitly captured in Sarah Death’s elegant translation. For all his insistence on absolutes, Ragnar is mired in ambivalence. It’s what keeps his twisted logic fresh, even as he ages, and his country, along with his children, evolves beyond the plot he’s imagined for them.
MixedBookforumWhen the mounting speculation, anxiety, and murderous fantasy bear fruit, it’s hard not to feel a tad underwhelmed. Vivek’s death is stripped of glamour, and even of pathology. Only Osita knows what really happens; Vivek’s other family members continue to tend to their delusions. In the end, those who know Vivek the least are also his most reliable witnesses ... The stranger’s momentary recognition approximates something like grace.