THE YELLOW STAR OF NORDICNESS is a memoir about the road of a post-war, Protestant, Swedish girl from Finland to her American obsession with what happened to the Jews in Scandinavia during the War and the questions she gets about the topic. In this 70,000-word book I recall my early life as being on the outside looking into the homogeneous Finnish society, where Jews and Catholics are an exotic rarity, and my longing to live in America where everyone, at least in the Hollywood movies, lives happily ever after. Blending historical facts with personal anecdotes about my growing awakening to the existence of a Jewish people, I show how my desperate search to fit in takes me through a marriage with a Catholic-American to falling in love with a Jewish-American man with a medical diagnosis of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder that includes a never-ending obsession – even through a terminal illness – with the main actors in the Holocaust, thereby laying the foundation for my own obsession.
Readers of this non-fiction work get important historical facts (for instance, that Hitler invaded Denmark and Norway on the same day in 1940 while Finland and Sweden were left alone) without being over-whelmed by mind-numbing information, in a way that the previous literature about the years 1940-1945 has not done. My personal reflections help readers relate on a more personal level while letting them see how history and culture continue to affect the way we still view human relations, specifically in the area of tolerance.
To mention just one example of how my own contemplation of the subject has been shaped by the unexpected questions I’ve received during interactions with my audiences, when one listener asked about rumors that Jean Sibelius (world-famous composer from Finland) may have been antisemitic it sent me to his partially-published journals, which are written in Swedish (my native tongue) and which apparently are the root of the claim of an antisemitic Sibelius. Is it possible that the meaning of these personal journal entries is lost in translation? While I reflect on that question I also consider the historical context of Finland during Sibelius’s time and what he meant to me and my contemporaries born and raised in his native country.
Among my unique qualifications are my proficiency in all Scandinavian languages, my scholarly background, and that I – through continued lectures and writings – know what Americans want to know about this part of history involving four Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden), all with their own unique experiences.
The manuscript is currently in progress. Watch for the book!