cover image Stolen


Ann-Helén Laestadius, trans. from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles. Scribner, $18 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-1-66800-716-7

In Laestadius’s nuanced English-language debut, the fragile peace of a Sámi tribal community in Arctic Lappland is shattered when a poacher begins to prey on their sacred reindeer herd. Nine-year-old Elsa witnesses a poaching in 2008, and after the police refuse to investigate, she keeps quiet about it in order to protect her family. Eventually, the Sámi begin to push back against escalating threats of violence from neighbors if they refuse to keep silent about the poaching, and amid the tension and danger Elsa loses an uncle to suicide and her brother becomes estranged from the family. At the heart of the tribe’s plight is that they regard the poaching as murder, while the unsympathetic authorities see it as simple theft. As Elsa grows up under the shadow of her peoples’ continued exploitation by the poachers, she dreams of revenge against them, but is unprepared for the fallout in 2018 after a poacher is found dead. Though the pace can be slack, the sense of place and character development make for an affecting portrait of the Sámi’s disenfranchisement. It’s a solid story of a family torn apart by cultural tensions. (Jan.)