Ellington: What is water?
Arletta: 78 percent.
Ellington: Are 78 percent of Earth’s surface covered with water?
Arletta: 70 percent of the Earth is covered with water. The human body consists of 78 percent of water.
Ellington: Do you know how much water there is in the Suorva dam?
Arletta: I only know that Vänern is Sweden’s largest lake.
Ellington: Exactly. And after lake Vänern the Suorva dam is Sweden’s largest water magazine.
Arletta: It is in Norrland, isn’t it?
6,000,000 cubic kilometers of water is contained in Suorvamagasinet
”An intense rainstorm has plagued northernmost Norrland throughout the autumn. It’s here. in the Lule River, towards the Norwegian border, that the huge water magazines and power plants are in line. One day it happens – the unimaginable. Suddenly a gray wall rises, it’s the dams that ultimately burst, huge forces are released, and a flood that should not be there will sweep away everything in its path. ”
This is how Mikael Niemis’s novel Fallvatten is featured on its back cover. The story has nine main characters. Their meetings with the enormous body of water are followed separately. Some of them meet in the maelstrom of emotions, thoughts, and attempts to face the danger and escape alive that everyone enters into.
And these are no beautiful depictions of human goodness in situations of crisis that Niemi depicts. You, for example, who have read Åsa Larsson’s Solstorm recognize the predator-related primal reactions of some of these Norrland characters. But surely, of course, the beauty of human life is there at the verge of death where they all are. Lovisa Laurin’s never-failing focus on the life she carries in her womb. Vincent, when, in his will to die, still does everything he can to save the woman who has let go of his love. And Lena Sundh, when she, in her impetus of giving life to the dying man Laban, helps him to a him a hard-on and loves him into death. It’s beautiful, while the really ugly and mentally distorted bursts out in Barneys’s essentially asocial life.
Lena Sundh and Laban
These are the characters we will follow. Some manage to survive. Some of them die in the monster wave that breaks up the gates of the Suorva dam and cleans away man’s attempt to master the natural forces. Somehow, this is a revenge. The revenge of nature, of Sami jojks and shamanic drums on those who thought they could steal the country from the people. At the same time, a stereotype is felt in the portrayal of the raw Norrland chracters, also recognized in other contemporary Norrland writers. Those who do not have Sara Lidman’s spiritual rootedness in forest and lakes and mountains.
However, as a depiction of the relation of mankind and water, the novel Fallvatten is an eye-opener to the fragility of that relationship.