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Anneli Jordahl

The Bear Hunter’s Daughters

Tales were often told about the notorious Bear Hunter’s seven daughters. The opinions differed. Were they really living on their own out in the wilderness? It was said that they spent all their time hunting, bathing and wrestling, except when they got drunk on moonshine and porter. Like a bunch of rowdy boys, left to their own devices. Sometimes they were spotted at the market, where they sold bear skins and small figurines, and danced in skimpy clothes, intoxicated and excited, when sales exceeded expectations.

A woman – the narrator – sees them at the market and decides to write down the wild history of the seven Leskinen sisters. Why did they never go to school? Why did they want to live isolated in the wasteland, so far away from the nearest town? It turns into a story about rage and sorrow, about loneliness and unity, about sibling rivalry and a heightened sense of life in the demanding existence deep in the wilderness.

Anneli Jordahl has been inspired by Aleksis Kivi’s classic Finnish novel Seven Brothers (1870) but has set her story in the present and placed seven sisters in the foreground instead. The result is masterful; a wild and riveting tale, written in exquisitely crafted prose, which will leave no reader unaffected.

SHORTLISTED FOR THE AUGUST PRIZE 2022

Anneli

About the author

Jordahl

Anneli Jordahl (b. 1960) is an author and a literary critic. She has written several works of non-fiction, as well as critically praised novels. Her latest novels are Augusten­bad, One Summer (2011), Don’t Let This Town Ruin You (2014) and Like the Dogs in Lafayette Park (2016).

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Denmark: Straarup & Co, Estonia: Varrak, Finland: Johnny Kniga/WSOY, France: Éditions L'Observatoire, Germany: Hoffmann & Campe, Mexico: Planeta, Netherlands: Oevers, Poland: Czarne, Spain: Siruela, USA: Harper Via (World English rights)

Tales were often told about the notorious Bear Hunter’s seven daughters. The opinions differed. Were they really living on their own out in the wilderness? It was said that they spent all their time hunting, bathing and wrestling, except when they got drunk on moonshine and porter. Like a bunch of rowdy boys, left to their own devices. Sometimes they were spotted at the market, where they sold bear skins and small figurines, and danced in skimpy clothes, intoxicated and excited, when sales exceeded expectations.

A woman – the narrator – sees them at the market and decides to write down the wild history of the seven Leskinen sisters. Why did they never go to school? Why did they want to live isolated in the wasteland, so far away from the nearest town? It turns into a story about rage and sorrow, about loneliness and unity, about sibling rivalry and a heightened sense of life in the demanding existence deep in the wilderness.

Anneli Jordahl has been inspired by Aleksis Kivi’s classic Finnish novel Seven Brothers (1870) but has set her story in the present and placed seven sisters in the foreground instead. The result is masterful; a wild and riveting tale, written in exquisitely crafted prose, which will leave no reader unaffected.

SHORTLISTED FOR THE AUGUST PRIZE 2022

Reviews

It is bold, it is hilarious and like all inverted worlds, full of revolt!

The Bear Hunter’s Daughters is, as often with Jordahl, a story of class and class differences, of the library’s benedictions and of the courage to find your own path to culture, without adopting another class’ inheritance. At the same time Jordahl is so evidently amused with immersing herself in the unrefined life while the civilisation process is dealt with in a more compendious way. The harsh existence in the forest is portrayed with immense ardour and wealth of detail. The wind howls and the rain pelts, the sisters watch their crop of potatoes freeze, while they keep themselves warm with booze and fall asleep with horny dreams of men. The days are filled with hard work and punch-ups, the bodies ache, the land is swampy and smells like sludge /… / It is bold, it is hilarious and like all inverted worlds, full of revolt!

Aftonbladet
This novel should first and foremost be regarded as a hymn to storytelling itself.

Anneli Jordahl presents us with a heck of a tall tale. The Bear Hunter’s Daughters is a scathing, expansive concoction about a family beyond societal control. Not in the 1800s but today. Other teenagers carry mobile phones. The severely unkempt Leskinen sisters carry knives and nooses /… / This novel should first and foremost be regarded as a hymn to storytelling itself. Stories that pull you in, that take your breath away, that provoke astonishment, sadness and horror.

Arbetarbladet
Anneli Jordahl’s tall tale of a novel feels more authentic than many contemporary realistic novels.

Jordahl’s prose has a stylish sparsity and lustre which create an illusion of passed down oral storytelling with the austere Nordic poetry of a Norse saga, especially in the sisters’ dialogues. The Bear Hunter’s Daughters takes place on the verge between fairy-tale and myth, in a struggle that puts civilisation and freedom at opposing ends. The Leskinen sisters form a miniature society which rewards power, strength, leadership and discipline. A society that is united by a strong leader and an indisputable mythology runs the risk of collapse, when neither of them holds for closer inspection. Are freedom and civilisation truly incompatible antipoles? Anneli Jordahl’s tall tale of a novel feels more authentic than many contemporary realistic novels.

Göteborgs-Posten
The majority of the novel about the seven Leskinen sisters seems to take place outside of time itself

I am startled every time a reference to the present appears in The Bear Hunter’s Daughters. The majority of the novel about the seven Leskinen sisters seems to take place outside of time itself; an existence that is equally lawless and timeless, where gleaming screens and letters from the authorities form a sharp reminder that society still exists even if the sisters live outside of it /… / At the same time, literary nods and kinships are secondary during the reading, all that matters then are the Leskinen sisters’ fates and adventures. I follow them breathlessly, guided by a spirited Anneli Jordahl; with unbridled imagination, black humour and a keen eye she gives life to a set of siblings I will find it hard to forget.

Tidningen Vi

More titles by Anneli Jordahl

Don't Let This Town Ruin You
Låt inte den här stan plåga livet ur dig, Mona
Like the Dogs in Lafayette Park
Som hundarna i Lafayette Park

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