Another World

Jan Myrdal, Author, Alan B. Bernstein, Translator
Jan Myrdal, Author, Alan B. Bernstein, Translator Ravenswood Books $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-884468-00-1
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Prolific Swedish novelist, essayist and playwright Myrdal created a sensation with his first autobiographical novel, Childhood , which portrayed his Nobel laureate parents--sociologists Gunnar and Alva Myrdal--as abusive and unloving. In this thinly fictionalized sequel, winner of Sweden's Grand Prize for the Novel, the family emigrates to New York in 1938, where Jan, a precocious, lonely, obese 11-year-old, endures the sadistic mockery and humiliating practical jokes of his father, who is conducting research for his classic study of U.S. racial problems, An American Dilemma . Alva, a psychologist (later Sweden's minister for disarmament), is depicted as a facilitator of her husband's brutal psychological abuse, while she herself treats their son virtually like a laboratory rat in behavioral experiments involving a rigid system of rewards and punishments. As ``problem child'' Jan attends a progressive private school in Manhattan, he straitjackets his emotions and resists the school psychologist's probes. Myrdal writes beautifully, with an icy objectivity free of self-pity, making this painfully honest reminiscence an act of self-recovery, a healing catharsis. (July)
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