||This coming-of-age tale takes place in the 1960s in the farthest reaches of Sweden, a rural community near the Finnish border, where two Elvis-crazed adolescents, Matti and Niila, start a wildly successful rock band. But the reach of the novel goes beyond screaming fans and miniskirts as it shows the effects on an isolated and insular town--a place that encompasses Communists, alcoholism, mystical folklore, and an alarming cultural naiveté--when, as the '60s wear on, it is gradually infiltrated by aspects of the outside world.
||Popular Music from Vittula tells the fantastical story of a young boy's unordinary existence, peopled by a visiting African priest, a witch in the heart of the forest, cousins from Missouri, an old Nazi, a beautiful girl with a black Volvo, silent men and tough women, a champion-bicyclist music teacher with a thumb in the middle of his hand—and, not least, on a shiny vinyl disk, the Beatles. The story unfolds in sweltering wood saunas, amidst chain thrashings and gang warfare, learning to play the guitar in the garage, over a traditional wedding meal, on the way to China, during drinking competitions, while learning secret languages, playing ice hockey surrounded by snow drifts, outsmarting mice, discovering girls, staging a first rock concert, peeing in the snow, skiing under a sparkling midnight sky. In the manner of David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green, Mikael Niemi tells a story of a rural Sweden at once foreign and familiar, as a magical childhood slowly fades with the seasons into adult reality.