“I don’t think a person ever stops longing for the place where they belong.
No matter who we become or where we end up, our hearts have a root.”
Máriddja has just been told that she doesn’t have long to live. The eccentric 85-year-old woman accepts her fate with furious resignation and quickly moves on to more important matters: how to keep her condition from her husband Biera, who is slipping into dementia. Traditionally, Sami families are large and those who come after are supposed to care for their elders. But Máriddja and Biera were never blessed with little ones. There was once a boy whom they loved above all else, but he was taken from them. Where is little Heaika-Joná now?
The newly engaged couple Kaj and Mimmi has recently relocated to a small village in the north of Sweden after the death of Kaj’s mother, the enigmatic Laura. Laura took the secret of Kaj’s father’s identity to her grave, and while Mimmi longs to start a family of their own, Kaj feels lost not knowing where he comes from. When Kaj finds a curious box of Sami handicrafts that his mother left him, an improbable chain of events is set in motion that will ultimately lead him to a life-altering discovery…
Meanwhile, Biera worries that Máriddja has lost her marbles. She talks to herself, sends inappropriate messages to their neighbors, and burns letters from the authorities. But Máriddja is busy making arrangements. Refusing to have Biera institutionalized, she’s determined to find Heaika-Joná so that he can return and care for his own. Biera is considered a Sami clairvoyant and Máriddja decides to follow the lead of something he once told her: that their boy is alive and wearing a uniform. Together with her new confidant Siré, an operator in the incomprehensible new phone-machine-device, she cooks up a plan to lure men in uniform to their home – a plan that involves setting fire to the barn, and shooting a moose…
With Those Who Sow in Snow, debut writer Tina Harnesk spins a tall tale that shifts seamlessly between laugh-out loud humor and profound depictions of what it means to love and lose within a family. With fantastic twists and turns, an unforgettable cast of colorful characters and a singular lyrical style, this glimmering debut novel is as broad as it is deep.
“A debut novel turned sensation at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, where it sold to 13 countries. Tina Harnesk lives on a mountain outside of Arvidsjaur and has joined the authors who are writing about Sami life and culture. And how she does it! Her novel is burlesque and daring, populated by colorful, unforgettable characters. But underneath the cheerful exterior rests a grief over the traditional reindeer herding life that was lost.”
Ingalill Mosander, Aftonbladet (SE)
“A gorgeous story. […] People and encounters are intertwined in a remarkable way. […] In one way it’s a serious and dark tale, but a large portion of the book is told in what is not written. Not necessarily in a way that means you have to read between the lines, but rather as if the silence is allowed to speak. And I find that so incredibly beautiful that I sometimes have to pause to let the text sink in […] And then there’s so much humor, and an ingenuity and little twists. […] I am truly drawn into this storytelling. […] Simply wonderful!”
SVT Go’kväll (SE)
“Tina Harnesk plays with language and lets the details speak; like when a half-eaten box of raisins found underneath a reindeer pelt gets to symbolize the heart wrenching loss of a child. Fairy tales, tall tales and joiks sneak around in this instantly charming, melancholic, and poetic story, emerging here and there, bringing forth images of life rooted in the Sámi spiritual nature. It is often wild and hilarious. […] But the absurd is interlaced with realistic portrayals of defiant bodies, minds, and hearts.
A brilliant debut that warms like double Lovikka mittens in the arctic cold.”
Aftonbladet Söndag (SE)
“Tina Harnesk makes her debut with a multifaceted novel from northern Sweden, with distinct roots in oral storytelling. This is no book for readers with a taste for minimalism: Harnesk’s writing is verbose and wildly humoristic. She sprinkles her text with comedic similes and effective punchlines, but underneath the burlesque surface lies a throbbing pain. Those Who Sow in Snow is a beautiful novel about two generations who are steeped in the northern Sámi experience.”
Vi Läser (SE)
“How is it possibly that this is a debut novel?! The book is believable and intricate with a rather large and colorful cast of characters where the unforgettable 85-year-old Sámi woman Máriddja is the one who takes up the most space, moves the plot forward, and stirs the biggest emotions. An earnest, unique, warm, and personal story that captivates, enthralls, and leaves a deep impression. A strong candidate for Book of The Year. […] We are treated to delightfully vivid portrayals of milieu, but also to new perspectives and insight into a family history marked by racial biology, family secrets and alienation. The longing for roots, pride, ancient wisdom, and folk tales run as a thread throughout the whole story. I would gladly return to the place and the people. This left me wanting for more.”
P4 Västernorrland (SE)
“I have been reading, laughing, and crying. This is a debut novel, but that word almost sounds cliché. The author is part of the story, the dialect, and the Sámi memories. Just as storytelling should be, like a joik echoing through time and space. I am so glad that this story has been written. […] Those Who Sow in Snow is an important book in the midst of all noise. A beating heart from Sápmi.”
Dast Magazine (SE)
“This is a story about how life is brought to a head under constraining circumstances such as terminal illness, exercise of authority, and domestic violence. The language is bombastic and lyrical, but above all filled with ruthless humour. Máriddja is an unforgettable character; it is her voice that gives the text its tone. Like an ageing Sámi Loranga she is the master of her house and never hesitates to defend her own independence. […] An impressive debut.”
“This is not only a generational novel, it is a truly enjoyable reading experience. […] The book of the year, many people say. Read it and find out for yourself.”
“Tina Harnesk’s debut novel is populated with children and their parents, both absent and present. But above it is Máriddja who narrates life in the north of Sweden. […] Life can surprise you, especially in those moments when you allow yourself to just go with the flow.”
“This is a magnificent story and reading experience. Told with love and a language so vividly beautiful it almost makes the eyes of an old journalist and editor tear up. The phrasing is elegant and accurate, the language so colorful that you – even without any Sami connection – are unfazed by the Sami words and expressions and can truly see these people and places in your mind’s eye while reading, not least the quick retorts say everything about Máriddja. There is no doubt that Tina Harnesk is a talented woman, and I have to say that this is a must-read for everyone interested in reading, perhaps even the Christmas gift of the year.”
“This was an incredible story. I have laughed out loud, fought to keep tears back, gotten furious, happy, and everything in-between. Tina’s writing is both moving, uplifting, and vivid – everything at once. The style is at times almost poetic and I don’t want the story to end. The characters feel alive and Máriddja is a new favorite. She is direct, honest, and the kind of woman our society could use more of. I was hooked after only a few pages, hooked by Máriddja’s northern world. The book is a portrayal of life up north, of the Sami culture, of how older Sami remember the forced displacements, of not knowing your history, events and fates. If you haven’t read Tina’s book I hope you will do so! It is amazing, utterly amazing!”
Lollos Bokhörna, blog (SE)
“This absolute gem of a book […] Were I to describe it with one word I would choose – invigorating. Like a winter bath on a beautiful day. Your senses clear, awakened, but left with a warm glow from within your soul afterwards. It is refreshingly uplifting and vividly touching at the same time. Tina Harnesk works extensively and beautifully with metaphors. Her writing style appeals to me. It painstakingly beautiful how the forced displacements run like a thread throughout the novel and it makes the title obviously clear and alive. Máriddja is a refreshing gut punch of a character. The kind the world needs. One you barely believe can exist in real life, but hope that they do. […] Every character feels alive and add their own unique shimmer to the story. I think every story worth telling need to include at least one old boy who calls his parents ’folks’. It is an earnest and sharp portrayal of life in northern Sweden’s inland, but also a careful invitation to the Sami culture. Tina makes it accessible to all of us. An invitation I accept with warmth and humble respect. There is something especially liberating about someone being able to write about human fates and painful events in a way that touches, without ever making it too heavy. But also being able to mix it up with whimsically giggly lines without making it silly. This book is just like I want life to be – rich in culture, rich with meetings between humans, where the difficult exists and is felt but does not take itself or others too seriously, and where things occasionally turn out all right. […] Just read it! It is completely and utterly wonderful!”
Nettans Ord, blog (SE)
“[Máriddja and Siri’s] conversations are incredibly funny, as is so much else in Tina Harnesk’s successful debut Those Who Sow in Snow, which I finally got around to reading. It’s a wonderful tale with many imaginative parts, but what makes it really brilliant is that the humor has serious roots. […] a winding story filled with strong emotions and many absurd events along the way to the unification of the narrative threads. There are lots of other interesting people we get to know along the way in this vivid northern setting. It’s hard to fathom that a debut author has created this, but all credit to her. If you, like me, have gotten around to reading this story late, now is the time!”
“By page 14 I was hooked by Máriddja’s world up north. Those Who Sow in Snow is a story you want to live in. A tall tale, an adventure, a poem, a bestseller, an Idon’tknowwhat. Remarkable, it is! This is an important novel as well. Do for ***** sake read Those Who Sow in Snow!”
–Lina Nordquist, Author of Book of the Year – awarded Hunger
“It is so beautiful, the voice that carries Those Who Sow in Snow. And when was the last time an author tackled the chaos of existence with such joy in every accuracy? Tina Harnesk doesn’t devote herself to Swedish realism, thank goodness – her novel is busy being alive for real.”
–Thomas Engström, Author