Sami Said


Original title:

Väldigt sällan fin



August 2012



General Fiction


Original publisher:

Natur & Kultur


Reading material:

English sample


332 pp.


Hardly Ever Nice


When Noha leaves the family home in Göteborg to go to university, his head is crammed with warnings and threats. His grandfather’s words, about what living among the godless could do to a pious young man, ring loud and clear in his ears.


At first, things seem to be going rather well. He keeps to himself and reads obsessively about his would­be homeland, Eritrea. To the walls in his room, he has pinned notes saying, Eat! But the quiet, orderly life he has carefully protected is starting to come apart. His isolation is punctured, first by a coarse friend, then by the stirrings of love. The constant presence of these others is threatening to turn his life upside- down, and when he receives news of his grandfather’s death in Eritrea, the dam he has spent so long building bursts altogether.


Together with his father, Noha returns to the country from which he once came. During a couple of sweltering weeks, the novel reaches its climax as it builds to a confrontation of the myths about the family, the war and the flight, as well as the truths and lies about questions of origin, identity and belonging. Who is he? And who could he be, now?



»It’s one of the best Swedish debuts I’ve read. Said is not an entertainer, nor is he an aesthete; rather he is uncompromising, not in the least ingratiating and quite consciously stripped of charm ... I devoured this book. I’m grateful that a first time Swedish writer can be so full of narrative zest and take his reader so seriously.«



»Väldigt sällan fin is an outstanding debut by a hyper talented author. A distinct narrative voice darts quickly between exaggerations and understatements, creating a dramaturgy built

on a vibrating solemnity.«



»This is a brilliant debut. Sami Said’s writing flows along perfectly; it wraps me in its funniness with more than a few black strokes in its undertow. The publishing year is not over yet. But if Väldigt sällan fin is not at least shortlisted for every single literary prize, you all just have wretchedly bad taste.« SMÅLANDSPOSTEN


»Genuinely talented and funny debut ... with

a sharp eye and a rich style.«



»With a singular style and an irresistible sense of humor, Sami Said succeeds in conveying the confusion a shy young man from Eritrea experiences in his contacts with Swedish society ... A funny, unsettling reading experience.«