Ein Sturm wehte vom Paradiese her

Johannes Anyuru | Paul Berf

Johannes Anyuru: Ein Sturm wehte vom Paradiese her
Translated from the Swedish by Paul BerfEn storm kommer från paradiset
Luchterhand Literaturverlag 2015Norstedts, Stockholm 2012

“Johannes Anyuru’s father novel, Ein Sturm wehte vom Paradiese her, does not employ the usual father-son schema or narcissistically expound on the all too familiar topos of the vague and uncertain nor the difficulty of rapprochement. As a consequence, his debut novel is infused with an artistic stringency whose allure it is virtually impossible to escape. A Ugandan refugee becomes a reluctant wanderer between worlds, and that which appears ‘exotic’ from our perspective suddenly reveals itself to be an extreme form of the ‘condition humaine’: From the man-made hell of Idi Amin’s Uganda, to the equivocal, cool paradise of Sweden, where Sangfroid frequently transpires to be indifferent. However, Johannes Anyuru has not written an accusatory pamphlet, but a graphic and unforgettable biography of an individual. What more could one ask of literature? Paul Berf has mastered the translational challenges–the continual changes in perspective and time both–with textual fidelity and stylistic elegance.”
(The jury on the shortlist nomination 2016)

Ein Sturm wehte vom Paradiese her

Ein Sturm wehte vom Paradiese her

The protagonist, named P., travels from Europe to Zambia to work as a pilot, however, on arriving at the airport, he is arrested under suspicion of espionage. In Greece he had begun to train as a fighter pilot under orders from the Ugandan government, but after Idi Amin's successful coup, decided against returning to Uganda. Primarily by chance, P. is caught between the fronts, enduring endless interrogations and constantly being shuffled from one camp to the next. At some point the displaced P. is able to gain a foothold in Sweden, however, he remains estranged from the security of family and nationality. On his father's deathbed, P.'s son tries to imagine his fractured history, which is retraced using Benjamin's figure of the Angel of History. In the process he gains an understanding for the tragedy and hopelessness of a human life, exemplary for so many of the 20th century’s displaced and expelled persons.

Johannes Anyuru | © Thron Ullberg

Johannes Anyuru | © Thron Ullberg

About the author

Johannes Anyuru, born in 1979, is considered one of Sweden’s best young poets and prose writers. His debut in 2003 with the widely acclaimed collection of poems Det är bara gudarna som är nya was followed by two further collections Omega (2005) and Städerna inuti Hall (2009). His first novel Skulle jag dö under andra himlar was published in 2010. Anyuru's poetry, commenting on topical political issues such as racism, integration and refugee policy, appears regularly in Swedish newspapers. As a member of the rap duo Broken Word Anyuru experiments with verbal poetry forms and in 2009, he also published his first play BroFörvaret. The semi-autobiographical En storm kommer från paradise (German title: Ein Sturm wehte vom Paradies her), an attempt to understand his father's fate, is his second novel and the first to appear in German translation. Anyuru's work, which has been translated into seven languages, has won numerous awards, most recently the Ivar Lo-Johansson Prize and the De Nio Association’s Winter Prize.

Recent publications in Swedish:

  • En civilisation utan båtar; Glänta Production, Göteborg 2011
  • Skulle jag dö under andra himlar; Norstedts, Stockholm 2010
  • Städerna inuti Hall; Norstedts, Stockholm 2009

Paul Berf | © privat

Paul Berf | © privat

About the translator

Paul Berf, born 1963 in Frechen near Cologne, was initially trained to be a book dealer before he studied Scandinavian, German and English philology as well as Literature at the universities of Cologne and Uppsala. Since 1999, after a period as a publishing house editor, he has lived and worked in Cologne as a freelance translator of Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian literature. Among other authors, he has translated the work of Aris Fioretos, Tua Forsström, Selma Lagerlöf, Karl Ove Knausgård, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Fredrik Sjöberg, Kjell Westö and Carl-Henning Wijkmark. In 2005, he was awarded the Translator Prize of The Swedish Academy for his work.

Recent translations:

  • Karl Ove Knausgård: Träumen; Luchterhand 2015 (Min Kamp V; Forlaget Oktober, Oslo 2010)
  • Kjell Westö: Das Trugbild; btb 2014 (Hägring 38; Albert Bonniers Förlag, Stockholm 2013)
  • Håkan Nesser: Die Lebenden und Toten von Winsford; btb 2014 (Levande och döda i Winsford; Albert Bonniers Förlag, Stockholm 2013)
  • Lars Kepler: Der Sandmann; Bastei Lübbe 2014 (Sandmannen; Albert Bonniers Förlag, Stockholm 2009)