Lola Akinmade Åkerström: Why is Sweden afraid of publishing this book?

Editor’s Word: Lola Akinmade Åkerström is a Nigerian-Swedish writer and award-winning journey photographer based mostly in Stockholm, Sweden. The views expressed on this commentary are her personal.

Stockholm, Sweden

When mirrors present us how we glance, we regulate what must be mounted. We don’t break these mirrors just because we received’t settle for our reflection.

I bear in mind the precise line from a reader’s letter that moved me to tears. You realize, the kind of sobbing that purses your mouth into an unsightly pout.

“You enable them to be robust, weak, sensible, messy,” she says of my characters, “and but you command your viewers to at all times do not forget that all these curler coasters of experiencing romance, loss, love, success and feelings are usually not solely reserved for white our bodies.”

This is only one of dozens of private letters I’ve acquired from readers throughout the globe who really feel seen in my three fictional protagonists: Advertising and marketing govt Kemi, model-turned-flight attendant Brittany, and refugee Muna, whose tales kind the core of my novel, In Each Mirror She’s Black.

The cover of Lola Akinmade Åkerström's novel,

Whereas the journey to publication was difficult after so many rejections, we knew as soon as we bought previous the trade gatekeepers, the e book would resonate absolutely as a result of it’s uncooked, actual, and clear.

We have been proper.

From being displayed on Instances Sq. as a Good Morning America Buzz Choose and being named by The Impartial UK as essentially the most thought-provoking e book by a Black writer to being an Amazon Editors Choose and Apple Books Choose, amongst different memorable moments. Now we have 4 world publishers, and the German version will likely be printed later this yr.

As with something uncooked and actual, the response to my e book has been vast ranging. From those that really feel fully seen and heard, to those that refuse to just accept a extra nuanced image of a rustic they idolize.

“So, how has this been acquired in Sweden?”It doesn’t take lengthy earlier than this query pops up throughout any interview. My reply is at all times met with shock after I share {that a} e book written by a naturalized Swede about Black girls and Swedes set in Sweden, has but to be translated into Swedish.


That was the query I contemplated for months once we tried to promote the e book. We have been both met with chilly silence or one-liner, not for us, responses.

Probably the most insightful reply got here in a wordier response from one of many nation’s largest publishers. Whereas they appreciated my storytelling abilities and perception as an “outsider” into Swedish society, they needed me to chop out scenes from my character Muna’s story.

Muna is a Somali refugee. Her story was impressed by actual individuals I met whereas spending two years visiting a now-closed asylum middle as a photographer, listening to their tales, feeling their worry, ache, hopes, and goals.

The writer was involved her story would make the Swedish viewers uncomfortable.

A part of my 5 paragraph response to them was: Which Swedish viewers? White Swedes or non-white Swedes?

Already essentially the most invisible character inside society within the e book, in essence, they needed me to reduce her existence for his or her consolation, whereas discounting the experiences and emotions of the marginalized.

As a journey author and photographer, I repeatedly extol Sweden’s cultural and panoramic magnificence I like a lot by way of phrases and images for varied publications. I’ve additionally delved deep into understanding the Swedish psyche in my e book LAGOM, which is translated into 18 international language editions, paradoxically besides into Swedish, however I’m not stunned.

This unflinching have to at all times stay good and flawless is what continues so as to add to the tensions between varied factions inside society and an more and more complicated world picture.

Just like each single character in my e book, we’re all multi-dimensional, richly various, complicated and messy human beings. We provide one another constructive suggestions as a result of we wish one another to develop into higher variations of ourselves.

Sadly right here, any slight whiff of perceived criticism is taken into account an affront to the glass paradise that Sweden has constructed round its picture. So, many individuals select to silence their very own voices and maintain their lived tales untold, or threat exclusion from society.

Two issues can at all times be true: You generally is a world chief relating to sure points and nonetheless have plenty of work to do in your personal yard.

So that you can work on points, you really need to publicly acknowledge them. The UN issued an official report final yr, urging Sweden to work on its systemic racism. That report was primarily glossed over right here.

Sweden may be very progressive in some ways. This can’t be argued and I like my adopted dwelling for this.

The Swedish model of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Ought to All Be Feminists is distributed freely to highschool college students throughout the nation. The publishing trade is fast to usher in international authors and translate books that debate trauma and heavy topics set in different international locations, besides Sweden.

As a result of dangerous issues solely occur someplace else, not right here.

“So why don’t you self-publish it in Swedish your self?” is the follow-on query I typically get.

I might. However I select to not, as a result of that’s primarily giving the publishing trade a free move. Think about if each marginalized Swedish writer needed to maintain self-publishing their very own work simply to make their voices heard in a society additionally they actively contribute to?

This concern is a lot greater than my fictional novel and private needs.

Most self-aware individuals make the mandatory modifications if a mirror exhibits them there’s a sliver of spinach trapped between their entrance tooth.

It takes a particular type of hubris to interrupt that mirror as an alternative and strut out confidently with the spinach firmly caught, proclaiming there’s nothing to see right here.

“A bitter tablet to swallow,” my pricey reader goes on to say in her letter, “however one that permits for relearning, unlearning, and at last therapeutic.”

Posted by :


Halo, Saya adalah penulis artikel dengan judul Lola Akinmade Åkerström: Why is Sweden afraid of publishing this book? yang dipublish pada April 1, 2023 di website Enchantress Magazine

Artikel Terkait

Leave a Comment