FÖRRESTEN GÖR FOLK SÅ MÄRKLIGA SAKER NUFÖRTIDEN – PEOPLE DO THE ODDEST THINGS THESE DAYS
By Åsa Foster
The Characters in Åsa Foster’s new collection of stories can be found in the southern province of Skåne. Some are just visitors, others are firmly rooted in the dark soil. In each and their own way they are all struggling to cope with inner and outer disturbances. All of them are moving towards transformative moments, where boundaries become displaced and conditions unexpectedly change.
In the middle of the night a man stands by his wife’s bed with a rifle over his shoulder, waiting for her to wake up. At the University of Lund, a postgraduate student prepares to reveal everything about her extramarital affair, but something that she sees makes her hesitate. An inept car salesman assists a woman who is suspected of theft, without guessing that she might be guilty of something far more sinister. And behind a barn a kitten is about to be drowned.
ABOUT THE BOOK
First published by Forum, Sweden in August 2015
RIGHTS SOLD TO
Germany, Arche Literaturverlag
The Netherlands (3 short stories), Uitgeverij Stortebeeker
Åsa Foster is our latest short story master and the new book, which takes place in Skåne, is just as good as her debut. Just because her characters are as ordinary as they come doesn’t make the stories dull, the elevation lurks where we least expect it and the abyss appears when we believe we are on solid ground. The retorts glimmer like razor blades during caustic dialogues (keep an eye out for the woman who alarms the first time mother before childbirth!) and brings joy to the she-devil within. The title – “People Do the Oddest Things These Days” – perfectly captures the essence.
Jenny Lindh, M-Magasin
Åsa Foster’s new collection of stories “People Do the Oddest Things These Days” is dark and alluringly wistful. But also surprisingly funny /… / Åsa Foster is one of the finest new short story writers around, mature and genuine already in her debut /… / I love the fact that Åsa Foster sticks to the short format, there are already plenty of Swedish novels. She is an author to be reckoned with – and this is still only the beginning.
One immediately notices that Åsa Foster has a strong command of voices /… / I believe that Foster has achieved plenty through intimacy and perception. It is also impressive how she manages to completely switch between surroundings.
However, she is at her best when she – under controlled conditions – allows insanity and cruelty to simmer in the most trivial of situations. Here, she resembles one of Sweden’s most successful short story writers, Jonas Karlsson, even if Foster is more subtle in her use of the surreal and the supernatural. The creeping unease, combined with Foster’s strong ear for conversations and her ingenious plotting, is definitely a winning concept.
Åsa Foster is certainly not the first or the last to write about lecherous old men from the carer’s perspective, but her straight-forward style works unusually well. All in all, she is healthily candid in her storytelling, she does not tinker with the narrative, does not fiddle with her plots, there is a lot that appears completely natural in her stories /… / Most of what she writes may very well take place during an ordinary day in Skåne, although tuned into a more surreal direction. And it is the elevated sense of anxiety that makes the text pulsate. Making it slightly sinister. In all its everydayness.
Foster writes relatively traditional short stories. I say “relatively” because the stories involve a shift towards the unpredictable. Her characters are seldom content with their lives and want more than their fair share. And being punished for it, you may think. Well, one might as well say that they are rewarded with their punishments, because it is truth that has the last say. They are attracted by change – at any cost. In order to escape boredom. Portrayed here are different forms of catastrophic scenarios. Catastrophes of the less dramatic kind, of course. But it still leads to great excitement, bordering on horror /… / Short stories are said to have less commercial potential than the novel, but I cannot recommend this book enough, not least to those of you who are sceptical to the format, perhaps especially where Swedish authors are concerned.
Bernur (book blog)