"Swede Hollow" is a ravine on the east side of St. Paul, Minnesota. Today, it is like a haunting former industrial site overtaken by nature with a bike path running through it.
But in the 1800s and early 1900s, more than a thousand new immigrants, mostly Swedes, once gathered in this makeshift city. High infant mortality rates, a plethora of workplace accidents and other challenges prevented many from integrating into greater Minnesotan society. Resented by other immigrant groups who would later take their place in the ravine as the Swedes able to move upward, and kept distant by more well-off Swedish migrants, the names and histories of those who lived in Swede Hollow were erased along with the structures they once lived in. Now, there is a renewed interest in these lost stories.
Informed by the novel Swede Hollow (Albert Bonniers 2016) by Ola Larsmo, Sweden’s leading historical author, Swede Hollow, the exhibition, combines black and white images from Larsmo’s book with text excerpts translated into English from Swedish for the very first time.
Larsmo introduces us to a fictitious motley crew of people who lived in Swede Hollow in the winter of 1897. The names and stories gain new life in his novel. Meet the Klar Family who came from Orebro fleeing a disaster; David Lundgren, a helpless Swede chasing a lost and hopeless love; and the orphan Inga from Dalsland, Sweden, all seeking greater freedom and control over their own lives.
Ola Larsmo began his writing career in 1983 with the novella Vindmakaren and has since published a selection of his essays in literary collections and in the short story collection called muteness. Larsmo’s later novels are often set against a historical background, using documentary elements to further enhance the plots.
In addition to his writing, Larsmo works as a cultural journalist and social commentator, mainly in Dagens Nyheter. From 1985 to 1990 he was the editor of Bonniers Literary Magazine. In 1991 he was awarded the Göteborgs-Posten Literature Award.
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