Original title: Heiman
Author: Ann-Luise Bertell
Genre: Literary Fiction
English sample & synopsis
A detailed and insightful story of four generations and what it means to be human, set in the heart of the Finnish Osthrobothian plains.
Nominated for Finlandia Prize 2020 and Runeberg Prize 2020
When Elof is ten years old, his father dies, leaving him and his little brother Ivar alone at the mercy of their relatives. Fear becomes their companion throughout life - a companion who can only be disciplined by the joy of storytelling, alcohol and women. Elof knows that he is a bit of a coward, but has learned that he must never show fear, especially not in front of others and never to his wife Olga, whom he never really gets close to. Pride is the most important thing to Elof, as is their homestead, Heiman, which is all the family has ever truly owned.
Homestead talks about how love and trauma are passed on from one generation to another. This intense family chronicle asks the question; what is the price you have to pay, if you never get to be yourself? Ann-Luise Bertell writes an epic tale with a great drive, crystallized in scenes with strong sensual sensations, full of rich emotions.
” Bertell’s depictions of children are masterful. For a brief moment I’m back feeling like a child, I completely buy into the main characters’ emotions, crying with them in their sorrows and laughing with them in their childhood games. ” – Eric Luth, Liberaldebatt.se, Sweden February, 2020
“.... Bertell namely succeeds in nearly everything. Everything matches up, from the juicy gallery of characters to the landscape pictorials she paints. Whether things happen inadvertently or with great resolution, Bertell portrays her characters’ destinies with equal devotion. ” – Peter Lüttge, Svenska Yle Finland, 11.2.2021
“ Ann-Luise Bertell has done it again --- 'Homestead' is a roaring tale and a first class novel. It’s language is direct and accurate, and twisted with bewildering turns.” –Bertel Nygård, Vasabladet, Finland, 8.2.2021
” With her dense, straightforward prose, Bertell creates a world to step into; a world which does not - as life itself - follow any given dramatic models. Homestead is a finely-tuned novel about rootlessness, about being afraid as a rabbit and about the importance of having a place to call home.” – Vi läser, Sweden, May, 2020
“Bertell’s language transports the reader from cottages and cowsheds, from rooftops into forests through precise and lofty sentences, where the local dialect here and there lends some deliberate spice. 'Homestead' has definitely won its place among the Finlandia Award candidates.” – Helsingin Sanomat, Finland, 22.11.2020
Heiman is a captivating and rooted story that takes us through Ostrobothnia for four generations in a spacious landscape. The language of the book is accurate but gestureless, the characters carry pain under the cross-pressure of who they are and who they desire to be. Bertell looks at her charachters gently, even when they least deserve it."
- Finlandia Prize Jury
FINLAND (in Swedish) & SWEDEN: Förlaget (orig.)
ESTONIA: Eesti Raamat
FINLAND (in Finnish): Tammi