The Prairie Dogs

by Jonas Gardell

People tend to think that the prairie dogs is the lone wolf of the wild lands, a dumb animal that wanders alone over great stretches of sand. But the prairie dog is no wolf but a squirrel, a cuddly little rodent. The prairie dog resembles a hamster or a rabbit, it is a vegetarian. But underground they eat one another. In the endless winding tunnels there are thousands and thousands of them. They are unable to avoid one other. They eat one another’s offspring. They are cuddly. They are vegetarians. They eat one another.

With this description of a species Jonas Gardell begins his novel Präriehundarna. And it is with such people, the cuddly and cannibalistic people of our time that the novel deals. In it we meet Lena who reflects her feelings in the pop group ABBA tunes and dreams about a great love affair with Redde, the dream actor at the theatre. Here we discover Percy, Lena’s husband, a civil servant of just over fifty who dreams of becoming a composer – and with the clear-sightedness of a prosecutor formulates judgement over existence.

There are also Reine, Lena and Percy’s son who becomes increasingly aware of love between men. In Präriehundarna Jonas Gardell lays bare his characters with a straight-forward use of language which gives an insight into the deepest and thus most banal dreams and hopes of our time.

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