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Jul 18 2024


7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Sally Franson’s BIG IN SWEDEN; in conversation with Kaethe Schwehn

Content welcomes Minnesota author Sally Franson for a celebration of her new novel, BIG IN SWEDEN. Join us on Thursday, July 18th at 7:30 pm, when she’ll be in conversation with St. Olaf professor and Content fave Kaethe Schwehn.

A charming, wise, and laugh-out-loud funny novel following an American woman competing on a Swedish reality show in an attempt to discover her roots.

Paulie Johansson has never put much stock in the idea of family: she has her long-term boyfriend Declan and beloved best friend Jemma, and that’s more than enough for her. Yet one night on a lark, she lets Jemma convince her to audition for Sverige och Mig, a show on Swedish television where Swedish-Americans compete to win the ultimate prize: a reunion with their Swedish relatives. Much to her shock, her drunken submission video wins her a spot on the show, and against Declan’s advice Paulie decides to go for it.

Armed with her Polaroid camera, a beat-up copy of PIPPI LONGSTOCKINGand an unquenchable sense of possibility, Paulie hops on a plane to Sweden and launches into the contest with seven other Americans, all under the watchful eye of a camera crew. At first, Paulie is certain that she and her competitors have nothing in common besides their passports and views their bloodthirsty ambitions with suspicion. Yet amid the increasingly absurd challenges—rowing from Denmark to Sweden in the freezing rain, battling through obstacle courses, competing in a pickled herring eating contest—Paulie finds herself rethinking her snap judgments about her fellow countrymen, while her growing attachment to her Swedish roots increases her resolve to win the competition herself.

Grappling with long-held notions of family, friendship, and love—not to mention her feelings for the distractingly handsome Swedish cameraman who’s been assigned to follow her around—Paulie starts to reconsider her past and rethink what she wants for the future. A fish-out-of-water tale filled with warmth, optimism, and wit, Big in Sweden is at its heart a love story: love for family, friends, country, and—most importantly—oneself.

Sally Franson is the author of the novel, A LADY’S GUIDE TO SELLING OUT. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesThe GuardianThe Best American Travel Writing, and on NPR, among other places. In 2022, she was a cast member of Allt för Sverige, a Swedish reality TV show about finding your roots. She lives with her family in Minneapolis.

Kaethe Schwehn is the author of the post-apocalyptic novel THE RENDING AND THE NEST, the poetry collection TANKA & ME, and a memoir, TAILINGS. Her poems and prose can be found in journals such as CrazyhorsePleiadesjubilatWitnessMinnesota Review, and the anthology Fiction on a Stick. She has been the recipient of a Minnesota Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, a Loft Mentor Series Award, the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, and a Best of the Net Anthology award. Schwehn studied creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Montana and earned a B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College. She currently teaches composition and creative writing at St. Olaf College.