Ulla-Lena Lundberg

Ulla-Lena Lundberg
Read an extract from Siberia by Ulla-Lena Lundberg in The Literary Review.
Ulla-Lena Lundberg was born 1947 on the island of Kökar in the Åland archipelago. Her family moved away when she was two, but she says she still has her home island as a frame of reference.

Lundberg made her literary debut at the age of fifteen. She published a collection of poems in 1962, and it was well received by the press. Since her debut she has been a full time writer and the only other work she has had was writer in residence at the university of Minnesota, USA, where she taught as well as wrote for one academic year, 1986-87. A year after her debut she went to the USA on a scholarship. She wrote two books in 1966 and 1968 about her experiences at the time of the Vietnam war and the murder of Martin Luther King. The books picture the development of personal philosophy and political views, together with a personal statement on contemporary politics.

Lundberg's breakthrough as an author came with Kökar (1976), a book about her home island. Through interviews with locals the reader is introduced to life in the archipelago past and present. Lundberg was inspired to write the book when she looked through through Ragna Ahlbäcks's thesis on the subject as a little girl. In the books about Anna from Kökar Lundberg once again wrote about loss and change. Anna loses her father while still a little girl and reaches maturity young the better to assist her mother and her sisters. As an adult Anna ends up living with the Swedish artist Stefan in Stockholm. Anna breaks free and returns home. She is a strong woman but ends up leaving her island again.

For a total of two years Lundberg lived in Botswana, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania. The stay resulted in an documentary book in 1981 which pictures the life of different landscapes and man in interaction with his surroundings. Lundberg also wrote fiction about her stay in Africa. Lundberg has also written a three part fiction series on the history of shipping from the country people of the 19th century until the ferry traffic of today. She describes a family by letting different people tell the story. The narration mirrors the society. First there is one narrator when the sense of village fellowship was still strong and one individual was representative for the whole community. In the second part there are five people bringing the story forth as one person can no longer represent a whole community.The last part consists of fictious interviwes, and snapshots of the people.

In 1993 Lundberg published a combined autobiography and travel book. For four years she spent one month each summer with a group of ornithologists in Siberia and this resulted in a tale of herself, politics and of course - birds. She has also written a series of radio plays and published her grandfather's memoirs.

Lundberg has been awarded many prizes and scholarships and has been nominated three times for the Finlandia Award and the Nordic Litterature Award.

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