Aednan: An Epic (Hardcover)

Aednan: An Epic By Linnea Axelsson, Saskia Vogel (Translated by) Cover Image
By Linnea Axelsson, Saskia Vogel (Translated by)
Available For In-Store or Curbside Pickup
In Store
1 on hand, as of Jun 19 9:37pm


A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK • The winner of Sweden’s most prestigious literary award makes her American debut with an epic, multigenerational novel-in-verse about two Sámi families and their quest to stay together across a century of migration, violence, and colonial trauma.

“Crystalline prose that reads like poetry and myth at once. There are intricate layers of beauty and meaning here in sparse clusters across a vast new landscape as I’ve never read before. The music of this book is old, and it is new, and it is old.”—Tommy Orange, bestselling author of There, There and Wandering Stars

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: a book that will one day stand alongside Halldór Laxness’s Independent People and Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter as an essential Scandinavian epic.

The tale begins in the 1910s, as Ristin and her family migrate their herd of reindeer to summer grounds. Along the way, forced to separate due to the newly formed border between Sweden and Norway, Ristin loses one of her sons in the aftermath of an accident, a grief that will ripple across the rest of the book. In the wake of this tragedy, Ristin struggles to manage what’s left of her family and her community.

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 embodiment of Indigenous resilience, 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, Axelsson has created a moving family saga around the consequences of colonial settlement. 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. “I was the weight / in the stone you brought / back from the coast // to place on / my grave,” one character says to another from beyond the grave. “And I flew above / the boat calling / to you all: // There will be rain / there will be rain.”

About the Author

LINNEA AXELSSON is a Sámi-Swedish writer, born in the province of North Bothnia in Sweden. In 2018, she was awarded the August Prize for this book. She lives in Stockholm, Sweden.

Translated by Saskia Vogel.

Praise For…

*One of LitHub's most-anticipated books of 2024! And a most-anticipated January book at The New York Times Book Review and in Kirkus Reviews.*

"A remarkable novel…'an epic' an ambitious subtitle, but Axelsson earns it. Generations unfold across the book’s often incantatory, alternating first-person sections...[Aednan is] full of sonorous power yet shot through with an undeniable intimacy... [and] it achieves a taut and at times uncanny lyricism in Saskia Vogel’s exquisite translation." —Kanishk Tharoor, The Washington Post
"Lyrical and ambitious... every page offers expanses of white space, reminding the reader that this is a narrative of absence, fracture, silence, erasure. This sparse form mirrors the landscape itself: harsh, thinly populated, often snowbound… Axelsson’s novel is a bold and original attempt to answer that question and to return the Sami to their rightful place in history.”—Alice Jolly, The Guardian
"Moves as gracefully as a waterfall... This unique novel beautifully conjures these losses and transitions within the flickering shadows of language."—Declan O'Driscoll, The Irish Times

Crystalline prose that reads like poetry and myth at once. There are intricate layers of beauty and meaning here in sparse clusters across a vast new landscape as I’ve never read before. The music of this book is old, and it is new, and it is old.”—Tommy Orange, author of Wandering Stars

“Sámi Swedish writer Axelsson makes her memorable American debut with a verse novel that spans generations of two Sámi families, addressing themes of migration and colonial suffering through short-lined, atmospheric poems… Spanning 100 years, this sensitive, beautiful, quietly rendered epic tells an impactful tale of community and survival.” Publishers Weekly

 "Ædnan is so immersive that although it runs more than 400 pages, I read it in two sittings. Vogel’s sublime translation not only gives the work breathing room but demonstrates how plain language can rise to the level of poetry.” —Amanda Holmes Duffy, Washington Review of Books

"Mesmerising. A beautiful, poetic weaving of language, character and place that carried me into the intimate interior of a single family in northern Sweden struggling with its unwanted inheritance of deracination and colonisation. Evocative and heart-breaking."—Audrey Magee, author of The Colony

Aednan is a soul-gripping and enthralling journey into what it feels like to be othered in your own land. Through powerful poetic prose, Axelsson offers us a profound invitation into understanding what it means to be deeply intertwined with nature. It takes raw talent to build deeply fleshed out worlds and deep characters with sparse poetry. Reading Adnan was an immerse privilege, one I indulged in with utmost reverence.”—Lola Akinmade Åkerström, international bestselling author of In Every Mirror She’s Black

"An epic poem, much honored in Sweden since its publication in 2018, that charts the fortunes of a Sámi community against opposing nationalisms… A sharp-edged tale in verse of colonial suppression, resistance, and survival."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593535455
ISBN-10: 0593535456
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: January 9th, 2024
Pages: 448
Language: English