About the Book
Author: Hans M Hirschi
Title: Last Winter’s Snow
Release Date: 6th April, 2017
Publisher: Beaten Track
Length: 69,000 words (232 pages) approx.
Categories: Gay fiction, relationships
The story of native Sami, Nilas, and how he navigates life, trying to reconcile being gay as well as being Sami. Set over several decades, we follow Nilas and his Swedish partner Casper, as they build a life amid the shallows of bigotry, discrimination, and the onset of the AIDS crisis.
Last Winter’s Snow portrays recent LGBT history from a Swedish perspective, from the days when being gay was considered a ‘mental disorder’ to today’s modern anti-discrimination legislation and full equality. It’s also the story of one couple and the ups and downs of everyday life, as they navigate society’s changing rules and attitudes toward them and their relationship.
Last, not least, it’s a book that celebrates the rich history and culture of the Sami and their country Sápmi, as well as their ongoing struggle to achieve recognition and win back the right to self-determination over lands they’ve lived on for thousands of years.
Last Winter’s Snow is Hans M Hirschi’s first novel set almost entirely in Sweden, but it is the second time (after Fallen Angels of Karnataka) he takes his readers on a journey into the mountainous regions of Scandinavia in one of his acclaimed novels.
Having read and enjoyed a number of the author’s other works, I can confidently say this is one of his best. From the history of LGBT rights to the beautiful scenery, the characters’ lives entwine in detailed ways with the obvious affection the author has for his homeland.
This is not a traditional genre romance in any sense, but it is a love story. I found it to be less about the couplehood love between Nilas and Casper and more about other kinds of love: Family; friendship; cultural and national pride. The decades-long relationship between Nilas and Casper is almost the backdrop for the other aspects.
One of my favorite parts of the novel is how Sweden is almost itself a character. I was utterly captivated reading about the different places, their history and culture. It was a little like a whirlwind tour, and it left me wanting to know more and to see the sights for myself.
There’s not an action-based plot in this book. It’s not about a single event or circumstance and the subsequent resolution. Nor does it emphasize how these two men meet and fall in love. Instead, it’s a slice-of-life story about how together, they navigate years and changes. For anyone who has built a life with someone, much of it should resonate. So, too, with the challenges of the particular decades in which they came of age and formed their relationship.
As with most of Hirschi’s novels, I had the sense of being invited into his home to pull up a chair and hear a story. The flow of the narration has an almost personal feel to it. This is what I love and why I keep coming back to read more.
For gorgeous scenery, realistic relationships, and a story full of warmth and optimism, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.
About the Author
Hans M Hirschi has been writing stories since childhood. As an adult, the demands of corporate life put an end to his fiction for more than twenty years. A global executive in training, he has traveled the world and published several non-fiction titles as well as four well-received novels. The birth of his son provided him with the opportunity to rekindle his love of creative writing, where he expresses his deep passion for a better world through love and tolerance. Hans lives with his husband and son on a small island off the west coast of Sweden.