The Sumac Woods

"This new one wore an overcoat, dark creased pants, a white shirt under a cardigan. His shining brogues has leather soles. The light brown, somewhat curly hair was short. Over all, it was a style belonging to an adult. It didn’t convey any affiliation, and thereby neither a clear dissociation."

This new one is Dan Schoultze, he arrives out of the blue one day to a school with a bad reputation and a thousand students in Stockholm. The Vietnam war is in full swing, and someone has written “Everything now!” next to the school entrance. Kenneth Jansson becomes friends with the peculiar Dan and his sister, who live together in a big house next to a wood of trees that Kenneth has never seen before, sumac, with leaves in the shape of marijuana. Marijuana, that also appears to grow beneath the sumac trees. There are no grown-ups around. In the woods they build a hut, and when summer comes the three of them lie there and smoke, surrounded by greens.

It’s idyllic, but it’s fragile. The surrounding world demands their attention. The war that is going on in another part of the world affects everyone. The kids in the woods of sumac must pick sides, and make a choice that will have momentous consequences.

Klas Östergren

Original title:
I en skog av sumak

September 2017

General Fiction

Original publisher:
Natur & Kultur

Reading material:
Swedish manuscript (final)
English sample

266 pp.


The Sumac Woods was serialized in Dagens Nyheter in the summer of 2017.

It was also shortlisted for the August Prize 2017 in the category of Best Swedish Fiction of the Year.