Author(s): Fredrik Sjoberg
Fredrik Sjoberg's mesmerising Swedish bestseller on travel, the joy of collecting and discovering the hidden wonders of life. The hoverflies are only props. No, not only, but to some extent. Here and there, my story is about something else. Some days I tell myself that my mission is to say something about the art and sometimes the bliss of limitation. And the legibility of landscape. Other days are more dismal. As if I were standing on queue in the rain outside confessional literature's nudist colony, mirrors everywhere, blue with cold. Warm, funny and insightful, The Fly Trap is a meditation on collecting; be it hoverflies or fine art. A fascinating web of associations, it begins with Sjoberg's own tranquil experience as an entomologist on a remote island in Sweden, and takes in heroic historical expeditions to Burma and the wilderness of Kamchatka. Along the way, Sjoberg pauses to reflect on a range of ideas - slowness, art, freedom, - drawing other great writers, like D.H Lawrence and Bruce Chatwin, into dialogue. From the everyday to the exotic, The Fly Trap revels in the wonder of the natural world and leaves a trail of memorable images and stories. "A rare masterpiece ...graceful, poetic, astonishing and - yes! - absolutely thrilling". (Jyllands Posten). "Sjoberg has a witty, erudite, incisive tone reminiscent of travellers and anthropologists such as Barlow, Chatwin or even Robert Byron". (Swedish Book Review). Fredrik Sjoberg is an entomologist and lives with his family on the island Runmaro, in the archipelago east of Stockholm. He is also a literary critic, translator, cultural columnist and the author of several books including The Art of Flight and The Raisin King, which accompany The Fly Trap.
Swedish entomologist Sjoberg has a close affinity with the island on which he lives, most specifically its hoverflies, about which he is an expert. Island life, specialisation, and happiness are all themes of this book. In essence it is an exploration of the art of mastery, containing observations of nature that reflect the writer’s inner self. This is a book with strong imagery and ideas that I mentally keep returning to. - Sarah
The Fly Trap brings the reader on an elegantly controlled but always unpredictable scenic tour of the subject of fascination for Sjöberg the narrator. Collecting Hoverflies on the 15km2 island of Runmarö may not appeal to most but the environment that is revealed is both enchanting and familiar in its own surprising way. Sjöberg does a terrific job of revealing potent philosophical observations within simple stories or a recollection, before whisking the reader away to the next scene of equal intrigue. In exploring the life, times and curious passions of fellow entomologist René Malaise, the author seems to ponder his own pursuit of happiness in a remote meadow with butterfly net and cyanide jar. Unique yet strangely familiar, Sjöberg will take you on a walk and have you pondering the failings of ‘slow-down’ movements, the strange attraction of islands and the surprising significance of a decaying stump to a political movement. - Dougal