The article is a study of multilingualism, urban space and mobility/immobility in two Finland-Swedish novels, Sara Razai’s Jag har letat efter dig (”I Have Been Searching for You”, 2012) and Johanna Holmström’s Asfaltsänglar (”Asphalt Angels”, 2013) through perspectives of post-monolingualism (Yildiz) and literary urban studies. In Razai’s novel, a Finland-Swedish woman and a refugee forge a relationship in broken Finnish, disrupting the link between mother tongue and language of affections. In an analogous relationship to the depiction of movement (cold) and keeping still in confined spaces (warmth, safety), Finnish becomes a small space for the lovers to connect. In Holmström’s novel, room for manoeuvre is restricted by gender and ethnicity, although the main characters manage the tension between suburb and city center in different ways. In Asfaltsänglar, Arabic is a sign of parental power and rules, but the language is also associated with a white Finland-Swedish woman, a convert, the girls’ mother. There is a discrepancy between Arabic’s function in the novel – as a local language – and how it is marked for the reader – as foreign. Trilingual Helsinki slang, on the other hand, becomes a hybrid marker of the Suburb as Heimat. Both novels renew the Finland-Swedish urban prose tradition by bringing in new languages and new kinds of language, and by associating these varieties with different kinds of characters.
- 6122 Kirjallisuuden tutkimus