Anja Snellman: Parvekejumalat [Balcony gods]
Helsinki: Otava, 2010. 316 p.
€ 31.80, hardback
The theme of this novel is delicate and still largely silenced: the collision between the cultures of Muslim immigrants and the local population. Immigration into historically homogeneous Finland is a comparatively newer phenomenon than in many other European countries. Like other teenage girls, the Somali girl Anis dreams about partying, boys and a future, which completely deviaties from the customs and ideals of her patriarchal Muslim family. Her counterpart, the Finnish girl Alla, wishes to convert to Islam, because she has found herself suffering at home from the consequences of Western ‘freedom’ and is left with a feeling of devastating insecurity. Islamic culture’s halal and haram (strictly ‘good’ and ‘bad’) crushes or is crushed in Finnish life. The provocative contrasts and solutions presented in Snellman’s novel (her 19th) appear occasionally overemphasised. In defending the right of women to determine their own lives, Snellman (born 1954) deals Anis an extraordinarily tragic fate.
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