Kihlman, Christer

   A Finland-Swedish novelist, Kihlman has his social background in upper levels of the Swedish-speaking minority, against whose value system he rebelled strongly in his writing. After publishing two volumes of poetry in the early 1950s, Kihlman achieved notoriety with an essay entitled "Svenskhetens slagskugga" (1959; tr. "The Shadow Cast by Swedishness," 1986), in which he accused his social and linguistic group of cultural narrowness and moral hypocrisy. The novel that he published the following year, Se upp Salige! (1960; Look Out, You Blessed!), was a harsh and satirical attack on a number of big names in the history of Finland-Swedish culture.
   In Den bla modern (1963; tr. The Blue Mother, 1990) and Madeleine (1965), Kihlman offers further descriptions of decadence and lack of ethics in the lives of prominent figures—however fictional—in Finland-Swedish society. In Människan som skalv: En bok om det oväsentliga (1971; The Human Who Trembled: A Book about the Inessential), he lays blame on both capitalist society and remnants of Christianity. Dyre prins (1975; tr. Sweet Prince, 1983) features the corruption of international business.
   In Alla mina soner (1980; tr. All My Sons, 1984) Kihlman attracted much attention to his frank portrayal of his relationship with an Argentine male prostitute named Juan; this theme is continued in Livs-drommen rena: Bok om maktloshet (1982; The Pure Dream of Life: A Book about Powerlessness). Pa drift i forlustens landskap (1986; Adrift in a Landscape of Loss) describes the raging jealousy of a bisexual man, while Gerdt Bladhs undergang (1987; tr. The Downfall ofGerdt Bladh, 1989) returns to Kihlman's favorite subject matter, the description of weakness, lack of integrity, and general degeneration among Finland-Swedes. Om hopploäshetens moäjligheter (2000; On the Possibilities of Despair) contains an exchange of letters with the Finland-Swedish poet, short story writer, and journalist Marten Westo (1967-), one of Finland's most promising young men of letters writing in Swedish.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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