A group of Swedish immigrants at the turn of the 20th century try to forge a life for their families in Swede Hollow, a collection of shacks in a wooded ravine on the edge of the emerging industrial city of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Larsmo’s...sobering, realistic portrayal of Swedish immigration to America pulls readers into a richly detailed world peopled with unforgettable characters. Extensively researched and beautifully translated, Larsmo’s novel is the epic story of a family and a community struggling to survive and an intimate look at the complexities of immigration.
The book is not a cheerful read, but this was not a cheerful life. Life in Swede Hollow is unremittingly grim ... The decades pass through the eyes of the different characters in turn. One quibble would be that their voices are not sufficiently differentiated. However, the passages that are examples of 19th- century journalism, showing how the Swedes were seen by the majority population of the time, are particularly powerful ... Published at a time when migration is a hugely topical issue, this story has obvious but telling parallels with today. Over a century later, only the nationalities have changed.
Ola Larsmo’s epic novel Swede Hollow is...stirring...and a timely reminder of the trials and uncertainties often faced by immigrants—and the courage they show in overcoming them ... it is a message sure to tug at the heart of every immigrant and every descendant of an immigrant.