ÆDNAN BY LINNEA AXELSSON — NORDIC BOOK CLUB ONLINE
February 13, 2024—6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Read and discuss literature with our Nordic Book Club Online! On February 13, we’ll be discussing Ædnan by Sámi-Swedish author Linnea Axelsson, an epic, multigenerational novel-in-verse about two Sámi families and their quest to stay together across migration and colonial trauma, a winner of the 2018 August Prize.
In Northern Sámi, the word Ædnan means the land, the earth, and my mother. These are all crucial forces within the lives of the Indigenous families that animate this groundbreaking book: an astonishing verse novel that chronicles a hundred years of change, beginning with in the 1910s as Ristin and her family migrate their herd of reindeer to summer grounds. When they are forced to separate due to the newly formed border between Sweden and Norway, Ristin loses one of her sons in an accident, leaving her struggling to manage her family and community as a result.
In the 1970s, Lise, as part of a new generation of Sámi grappling with questions of identity and inheritance, reflects on her traumatic childhood, when she was forced to leave her parents and was placed in a Nomad School to be stripped of the language of her ancestors. Finally, in the 2010s we meet Lise’s daughter, Sandra, an activist fighting for reparations in a highly publicized land rights trial, in a time when the Sámi language is all but lost. Weaving together the voices of half a dozen characters, from elders to young people unsure of their heritage, Ædnan is a powerful reminder of how durable language can be, even when it is borrowed — especially when it has to hold what no longer remains.