I admit, I had never heard of Stig Dagerman, but was intrigued by the introduction by Alice McDermott, blurbs from Graham Greene and Siri Hustvedt, and my general love of David R. Godine's Verba Mundi series. As it turns out, Dagerman was a prolific writer in Sweden, who in his time was compared to everyone from Faulkner to Kafka to Camus. While most of the stories in "Sleet" are a mote less philosophical than any of these writers' works, I would be remiss if I didn't strongly recommend at least the first and last stories, "To Kill a Child' and "Where is My Icelandic Sweater?" (Laugh at the second title -- it's fine.) "To Kill a Child" had me hooked immediately and was promisingly swift and devastating, and "Where is My Icelandic Sweater?", a nearly novella-length work, had me reduced to a tear-soaked pile of loss and bereavement, and memories of my grandfather. Dagerman's writing is personal and unsettling, hewing closely to characters being made to undergo humiliation and loss in an environment -- mid-century Sweden -- that's almost too quaint for comfort. I would happily read this collection a second and even a third time.— Sarah G.
Stig Dagerman (1923 1954) is regarded as the most talented young writer of the Swedish post-war generation. By the 1940s, his fiction, plays, and journalism had catapulted him to the forefront of Swedish letters, with critics comparing him to William Faulkner, Franz Kafka, and Albert Camus. His suicide at the age of thirty-one was a national tragedy. This selection, containing a number of new translations of Dagerman's stories never before published in English, is unified by the theme of the loss of innocence. Often narrated from a child's perspective, the stories give voice to childhood's tender state of receptiveness and joy tinged with longing and loneliness. The title story, "Att d da ett barn" ("To Kill A Child"), is the most famous of Dagerman's short stories and among the most anthologized and oft-read stories in Sweden.