From the British reviews:'The novel I enjoyed most this year, without reservation, was Mikael Niemi's Popular Music, a coming-of-age story set in the Arctic in the 1960s. I really cannot think of anyone who would not enjoy this book... It is surreal, moving, life-affirming and hilariously funny.' Scarlett Thomas, Independent on Sunday 'Books of the Year''Profound and humorous at the same time, set in a remote town in northern Sweden, it recounts a childhood and youth with great imaginative verve, and is a delight from the first page to the last.' Alan Sillitoe, Independent 'Books of the Year''First, let me confess that I was asked to leave the British Library reading room for chuckling -- not once, but repeatedly -- over this book... Mikael Niemi combines the knowing warmth and vernacular style of, say, Nick Hornby or Roddy Doyle with a bittersweet poetry. Each chapter is a small parable, simple but oceans deep, so that frequently you find you are laughing while having tears in your eyes.' Glyn Brown, The Times'An extraordinary novel: hilarious, ribald, obscene... All the ingredients are there for a tender and bittersweet coming-of-age story: Roddy Doyle meets Fever Pitch. But then Mikael Niemi smashes into the memories he has assembled with his pulverising imagination... I've never read anything like it.' Nicci Gerrard, Observer'Hilariously tracks Matti's rise from the illicit and shocking pleasure of listening to a Beatles single to miming in the garage with a hardboard cut-out guitar... There are nuances to these rites of passage that recall Nick Hornby's High Fidelity...the astonishing success of Popular Music in Sweden confirms that this sardonic tale of terrible guitar-playing can strike a fresh, jaunty, even heartfelt, chord.' IndependentVom Verlag:
‘A wonderfully warm tale of weddings, funerals, marathon sauna contests – and the incomparable thrill of your first kiss, from ‘the Nick Hornby of the Arctic’ (Marina Warner, Sunday Times)
It's the 1960s, and pop records are gradually finding their way into the eager hands of teenagers in the far north of Sweden. Young Matti dreams of being a rock star – but in the tiny ice-bound village of Pajala, a boy should really spend his time cultivating more manly pursuits, such as hunting elk, drinking moonshine and fighting on dancefloors…
Popular Music is one of the freshest, funniest debuts of recent years, and winner of the August prize, Sweden's equivalent of the Man Booker. So wrap up warm and join Matti and the unforgettable community of Pajala in a wonderful tale of weddings, funerals and marathon sauna contests, the incomparable thrill of your first kiss – and of finally hearing the Beatles.
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