Oh Sweden! Oh Israel! by Stephan Mendel-Enk

Oh Sweden! Oh Israel!

Stephan Mendel-Enk

A memoir style novella which tells the story of Jacob, his family and their Jewish community in Gothenburg. Each very short chapter disrupts the chronological narrative, interrupting events and memories from not just Jacob's childhood but also his wider family's lives. As such this interesting story is confusing and not very compelling although its evocation of everyday ordinariness and his relationships with his grandparents are poignant.

Extract

She couldn't sleep at night. She lay awake, in the blue bedroom, with her eyes sore from the street lights which shone in through the blinds, while her ears winced from the screeching of the dawn's first trams. She blamed herself. That's what you did as a mother. He had been sensitive even as a child. He had needed someone who understood him.
I directed the straw at the hollow craters of the ice cubes and sucked up the cola that had collected there. Mame placed a hand on either side of her cup. Her tea bag had lost its small paper tag and it floated just below the surface, trailing its white thread behind it. I wanted to ask her what had happened to Dad at work on the day that his colleague had called, but I couldn't think of a good way to phrase the question.
'He could have had anyone,' said Mame in a low voice. 'The entire congregation wanted him. He wouldn't listen to me. It was as if he was bewitched, Coybele. As if he was bewitched, I say.'

Parallels
  • Simon and the Oaks by Marianne Fredriksson
  • What Ends by Andrew Ladd

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