Ask a bookseller

Ask a Bookseller: ‘Aednan: An Epic’ by Linnea Axelsson

Ask a Bookseller Podcast
Ask a Bookseller
MPR

On The Thread’s Ask a Bookseller series, we talk to independent booksellers all over the country to find out what books they’re most excited about right now. 

Darcie Shultz of Books and Burrow in Pittsburgh, Kas., highly recommends Linnea Axelsson’s novel in verse “Aednan: An Epic,” which was translated by Saskia Vogel.

It’s a sweeping saga set across 100 years, three generations and two Sámi families. The story encompasses the forces of colonialism and the importance of language.

Translated from Northern Sámi, the title of the book means “the land, the earth and my mother.”

“It’s the most stunning book,” Shultz says. “It reads so quickly, but it contains so much. The author writes about some of the harshest circumstances in the most eloquent way.” 

For Shultz, the story held profoundly personal echoes. She explains why she was drawn to this book: 

“I’m a member of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. And I have had two family members who were forced into residential schools. My great-great-great-grandfather was in Carlisle in Pennsylvania and then my grandfather — I didn’t learn until I was an adult — was in Fort Lapwai in Idaho. 

A book cover
"Aednan: An Epic" by Linnea Axelsson.
Courtesy Knopf

He spent most of his developmental years in residential school, and it was never talked about at all. And this book and that history of the Sámi people has so many parallels to North American Indian residential schools. Parts of it were hard for me to read because of that history, but that's one reason why I was drawn to it. 

The second [reason] was the language: That loss of language and relearning the language. It’s a process that I’m going through and in the third part the daughter of one of the characters is on that journey. I just felt extremely connected to it on a very personal level.” 

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