lördag 1 augusti 2009

Håkan Lindquist - A short presentation in English

I was born and raised in the small coastal town Oskarshamn, in Småland, Sweden. I grew up with three brothers and three sisters. My earliest memory is from the small one-room apartment where we lived until I was fourteen months old. I’m sitting on the floor – or rather on the potty – watching my parents. The picture is very vivid. My parents are sitting by the kitchen table, they are deeply absorbed by some game. It’s evening. There’s a lamp hanging over the table. The light almost reaches the door at the other end of the room. The door is ajar. Behind it, my three elder brothers are sleeping. It’s one early memory. One of many.

During my childhood I lived in Döderhult, just outside Oskarshamn. I moved away from my family when I was sixteen, two months after I had finished the nine-year compulsory school. When I was nineteen I moved to Stockholm, where I still live. Since a couple of years, my friend and I also have a small apartment in Berlin.

I have been working with lots of different things in Stockholm, in hotels, within child care, in a book store and in a large record store. During several summers, I’ve been working with creative writing camps for children and teenagers. I have also visited schools to read from my books or to talk about my writing. For a couple of years, I have also been working for the RFSL, (The National Organization for Gay & Lesbian Rights) in leading discussion groups for young bi- or homosexual boys and girls. During those years, I also initiated the same kind of discussion groups for people older than 25 – men and women who, for one reason or another never dared to come out as bi- or homosexuals. These groups were an immediate success.

I have been writing stories since I was a child. The earliest stories that I still have, were written when I was seven or eight. Simple stories, very often about a little boy looking for friends. Well...

My literary debut came in 1993 with the novel Min bror och hans bror – My brother and his brother. It’s the story about an 18-year-old boy Jonas, who tries to create an image of the brother he never met, a brother who died the year before Jonas himself was born. Jonas soon learns that his brother, Paul, had an intense love affair with another boy during the last year of his life. The story – which is told like a crime story, with loose ends, clues and cliff hangers – have had very good reviews in Sweden,and it has been translated into Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, Hungarian, Icelandic, French, Greek, German, Italian, English, Spanish and Polish.

My second novel, Dröm att leva – Living a dream or, A dream to live – was published in 1996. It also deals with the themes sorrow and homosexuality. The main character is another teenager, Mikael. He has recently lost his father in an accident, and Mikael is trying to go through the first months of grief and sorrow while staying with friends in a country house in Skåne, in the south of Sweden. During his stay, he meets a Danish boy in the same age, with whom he falls in love. Dröm att leva has some connections to Min bror och hans bror, but it's not a sequel. My second novel has been translated into Danish, Icelandic and German. The title of the novel is inspired by a line from a poem by Gunnar Ekelöf: Ge mig gift att dö, eller drömmar att leva. (Give me poison to die, or dreams to live).

 My third novel, Om att samla frimärken – On collecting stamps, was published in spring 2003. It received very good reviews in Sweden. The novel has been translated into French, Italian, German and English. The novel is about Mattias, a man in his late thirties, and his childhood friend Samuel, a man who’s some forty years older than Mattias. When Mattias hears that Samuel has passed away, he returns to his childhood town for the funeral. During the visit he remembers a lot of things from his childhood and from the period when he befriended Samuel. Now, with the experiences of a grown up man, he starts to understand Samuel even more. He also realizes that there is a likeness between the two.

In the beginning of 2005 I finished an opera libretto entitled William. It’s a fantasy on the life of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. The opera, with music by the Swedish composer and conductor B Tommy Andersson, had its premiere in the summer of 2006, at the renaissance castle in Vadstena, Sweden. It was scheduled for eleven performances, all of them were sold out. There was also a live broadcast of the opera on the Swedish Radio.

My fourth novel, I ett annat land – In another country, was published in August 2006. It’s the story of a 14-year-old refugee boy, Aleks, who has fled a war-stricken country in Europe together with his parents and his sister. The novel, which describes Aleks’ first six months in the new country (Sweden), has been translated into Danish and Icelandic.

A bilingual collection of short stories – in French and Swedish – was published in November, 2010, under the title Nära vatten – Trois nouvelles au bord de l’eau [Three short stories by the waterside] by the French organization MEET in Saint-Nazaire. The French translations are made by Philippe Bouquet.

My fifth novel, Regn och åska, [Rain and Thunder] was published in March 2011. It’s a love story between two almost seventeen year old boys, Rein from Tallinn, Estonia, and Oscar from Visby, Sweden. The novel has been translated into German.

In June 2013 my sixth novel will be published in Swedish. I will post some more information about that later.

Apart from writing, I have also made some translations from Norwegian, Danish, Estonian, English and Polish. Mainly poetry, but also prose and children’s books. I have written several articles and short stories which have been published in literary magazines in Sweden, Finland, Iceland, France, Norway and the USA.I have also worked with courses in creative writing for teenagers. These courses have mainly been summer camps close to Stockholm, but also daytime workshops in the Stockholm public library. For several years I was also part of a reference group at the Swedish Writer’s Foundation, which deals with grant applications from writers, translators and illustrators.

Håkan Lindquist, August 1, 2009, updated in September, 2012.

The photo is taken by Davy Prieur.

23 kommentarer:

Stephen sa...

I just read with great admiration BROTHER
(review at http://www.epinions.com/content_571284819588)
and am awaiting STAMPS. Has it been delayed or is "in English" not equivalent to being available in the USA?

Håkan Lindquist sa...

Hi Stepen!

Thanks for your message and your very nice review! "On Collecting Stamps" has been delayed. I will probably get some news soon regarding the date for the publication. If you send me your e-mail address I can let you know (your address will not be published here). You'll find my e-mail address in the book you've already got.

All the best,

TheWorldAccordingToRoxette sa...

Hello Håkan from Spain..Yesterday I saw yor book in spanish..I hope, tne next moth, can to buy...
My name is David,from Madrid
Nice to meet you

Anonym sa...

i just read my brother and is brother ... i love it!!!!!!
all the best

fred from France

Håkan Lindquist sa...

Hello Fred,

Love is always a good thing, and it's nice that you love "My Brother and His Brother". Thanks for letting me know.

All the best,

Anonym sa...

Hello Håkan, I really wanted to like your novel "Min bror och hans bror" but found it unrealistic. You seem to be looking at the
60's through rose colored glasses.Very few boys of Petr's age would have had the courage
to tell a parent about their homosexuality.
Even today many teenagers are afaid to do this.
Sadly Paul would probably have taken his life after the trauma of losing such a friend,so the'accident'theory doesn't seem to ring true, but makes the story a little less tragic.And you've certainly given Jonas a wise head on young shoulders when he consoles Daniel in chapter 16!
Best wishes,Brian

Håkan Lindquist sa...

Hello Brian,

Thanks for your comment! I’m sorry you didn’t like “My Brother and His Brother” as much as you wanted, but I don’t agree with you that it should be unrealistic.

I don’t look at the 60’s or any other decade through rose coloured glasses. I know people who came out – also to their parents – both in the 60’s and earlier. Some had difficulties, others didn’t. You say that “very few boys of Petr's age would have had the courage to tell a parent about their homosexuality”, and I don’t know what you base that opinion on. But even if that was the case in the 60’s (I guess you mean the 60’s) Petr could very well have been one of those few boys. The two boys in the novel first met in spring 1969. Their love affair takes place in the last year of the 60’s.

I know a lot of people have difficulties in coming out, also today. But of course it differs from family to family, from one society or country and another. It’s impossible to generalize.

Paul died when he was hit by a train. It’s not stated in the novel if it was an accident or a suicide, but the different characters have thoughts on this and they deal with the little knowledge they have about what actually happened in different ways. I think it’s understandable and maybe even common for people who are left with the grief and sadness after a sudden death, to hold on to any idea or thought that explains that the tragedy was not intended but an accident. A sort of relief in the darkness.

When it comes to Jonas’s wise head I know from experience that young people, even children, sometimes seem to mature earlier in some ways when they have been confronted with sorrow and loss. In the chapter you are referring to Jonas states: “You could, perhaps, say I grew up in a small world of sorrow. Perhaps I am even the fruit of an early stage in my parents’ mourning, the result of their mutual efforts to carry on.” I think his “wise head” in the matters he’s discussing with Daniel comes from that experience.

All the best,

Håkan Lindquist sa...

Hello David!

I'm sorry for this late reply. I had missed your comment.

Thanks for sending it! I hope by now you have been able to get a copy of "Mi hermano y su hermano", and that you enjoy reading it.

All the best,

Naledi sa...

Hi Håkan,

I thought "My Brother and His Brother" was wonderful, thank you. Are there any plans to translate "Dröm att leva" into English or will I have to learn Swedish!

All the best,
Errol - Australia

Håkan Lindquist sa...
Den här kommentaren har tagits bort av skribenten.
Håkan Lindquist sa...

Hi Errol,

I'm glad you found "My Brother and His brother" wonderful! Thanks for letting me know. I hope there will be some publisher who'd like to publish "Dröm att leva" in English in time, but as for now there are only two of my novels in English. The one you've read, and "On Collecting Stamps".

When it comes to learning Swedish... well, I think learning a new language definately enrichens your life. So go ahead, if you feel like it ;-)

All the best,

Anonym sa...

I've read My Brother and his Brother and enjoyed it so much that I had to add it to my Amazon list of "More GLBT novels you should read before you die" collection (http://amzn.com/lm/R2EH5VMT6M8BZF).

I can't wait to read On Collecting Stamps and look forward to reading more of your novels as they continue to be translated into English or French. Well done!

Håkan Lindquist sa...

Hi Jeramy,

Thanks a lot for your message and your kind words, and for putting my novel on your Amazon list! I hope you will like "On Collecting Stamps" as well. There is also a small collection of short stories in French, "Trois nouvelles au bord de l'eau".

All the best,

riesj sa...

Hej Håkan,

Yesterday I just finishing reading Om att samla frimärken på svenska. I enjoyed this book very much. I also read Min bror och hans bror and Regn och åska. I like your books also because as a guy who lives in Stockholm now for 6 months I want to learn Swedish. These books are perfectly written for me to understand them rather well. I also want to read Dröm att leva, but I cannot buy this book on internet. Could you please advise me how I can get this book (no e-book) ? Thank you !

Håkan Lindquist sa...

Hej Riesj,

Thanks for your comment! I'm glad you like my books, and that you are using them in your Swedish studies. Unfortunately it's very difficult to find "Dröm att leva", except for the new e-book edition. The physical edition has been sold out for a long time. If you're lucky you might find it in some second hand store like Myrorna or Kupan, or in some antiquarian book store. You could check bokborsen.se or antikvariat.net now and then. Or, you could borrow it from a library. Good luck!

Best regards,

Anonym sa...


I've just finished reading "Mein geliebter Regen". The novel was a sweet and wonderful read, so I greatly enjoyed it. I was also pleasantly surprised to find William and Samuel referenced in the book. The occurrence of their names really enriched my reading experience, as, after finishing "On Collecting Stamps", I was still keen to discover more about William's life.

The "Rein-songs" were for me a very engaging element, since I was actively trying to find more songs to fit into the plot of the book. Sadly, all I could think of was:
"Everything but the Girl - Missing" (slightly too gloomy to befit Rein and Oscar's particular relationship, I think - although this song would mirror to an extent the two characters' longing for each other when they were not together)

So, I only wanted to say that I appreciated "Mein geliebter Regen" (as I did "On Collecting Stamps") very much.

Kind regards,


P.S. Does either William or Samuel appear in any other one of your books?

Håkan Lindquist sa...

Hi there Remus.

Thanks for your comment! It's nice to hear that you like my novels. Since you obviously read German as well as English, there are a few more novels for you to read, if you feel like it.

There are connections between all my novels, and you have found one of them. I actually have an idea for a story, probably a novel, where Willam will appear again. We'll see.

All the best,

Ignacio Ortiz sa...

Mr Lindquist:
I just finished reading your novel translated to Spanish as "Mi Hermano y Su Hermano". I'm at awed for the connections between past and present. 1968 and 2014 don't seem that far apart. I see what's going on in Ukraine and it brings me back to Jan Palach. Your research it's spot on. Being gay does not exclude us from the reality of the world.
Ignacio Ortiz
Los Angeles, California

Håkan Lindquist sa...

Hi Ignacio,

Thanks a lot for your comment. I'm glad you found, read and liked "Mi Hermano y su hermano". It's true what you say, being gay does not exlude us from the reality of the world since it is and has always been a human reality. In Ukraine, in the US, in Sweden, in the Czech Republic and everywhere else. Even in Uganda.

All the best,

Anonym sa...

Hello, David from America. I recently read "My Brother..."
and would like you to know that I enjoyed it a great deal. The story was told with tenderness and understanding, a
generosity of spirit which its characters may have found, or feared they might find, in short supply in the larger
world. One aspect of the story that I
particularly enjoyed was the way it conveyed how a
young person can become deeply engaged with a subject,
and in the process discover just how capable and
resourceful he or she can be in taking on something in
life. I also appreciated the way you drew in the story of
Jan Palach, which I had not thought about in many years,
and did not previously understand in its fulness.

I only speak English and a little Japanese, so my ability
to explore Swedish works is necessarily limited. One
film from Sweden that I did enjoy, and whose story
shares with "My Brother..." the situation of a romantic
involvement of an LBGT boy from Sweden with someone
from a very different country and culture, was "Miss Kiki".
In any event, I would welcome seeing more of your
novels translated into English, and in the meantime,
I wish you the very best of fortune.

Håkan Lindquist sa...

Hi David,

Thanks a lot for your kind comment! It's nice to hear that you've enjoyed "My Brother and His Brother" a great deal. Perhaps you would also like my other novel in English, "On Collecting Stamps". And, if everything turns out good, there will soon be yet another novel published in English, my second novel, "Dröm att leva". Keep your fingers crossed!

All the best,

Anonym sa...

Hi Håkan,

Following your advice, I continued to explore more of your novels. I read "Paul, mein grosser Bruder" and "Ein Traum vom Leben".

I was marked by Jonas' sustained attempt to reconstruct his Brother's life. I felt enthralled by the resulting puzzle, which was slowly getting solved by Jonas, in spite of the others' better judgment.

Of course, I could not help savouring the character connection between the above two novels.

Again, congratulations on your great work.

Kind regards,


Håkan Lindquist sa...

Hi Remus,

Thanks a lot for your words. I'm glad you enjoyed "Paul..." and "Ein Traum...". Perhaps, if you read even more of my stories, you'll find also other connections.

All the best,