cover image Children's Island

Children's Island

P. C. Jersild. University of Nebraska Press, $30 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8032-2569-5

A bestseller in Sweden, and the basis of both a movie and a TV miniseries there, this picaresque novel has for its protagonist a worldly-wise yet vulnerable 10-year-old boy. Slated to go off to Children's Island for his annual summer at camp, Reine Larsson decides instead to explore Stockholm. On the brink of puberty, Reine provides some amusing episodes centering on sexual concerns; he indulges his passion for McDonald's hamburgers and gets caught up in some of the seamier trades of the city. The knowledge of his illegitimacy spurs Reine's search for a likely progenitor, and he pursues the idea that his father might have been the late Dag Hammarskjold. It is difficult to remember Reine is a child, however. His adventures are hardly typicala medley of the sad, the amusing and the absurd that serve as a vehicle for Jersild's exploration of contemporary child-adult relationships. Moreover, a stilted translation, weighted down by gratingly vernacular dialogue, detracts from the narrative's effectiveness. (December 5)