As a bald French writer exiled in Stockholm since last year, I have rapidly noticed that 50 percent of the Swedish population is either a hairdresser or a writer – or both.
In Stockholm, there is a frisör every fifty metres, where you usually find a lonely person getting a blond hair colour or a new cut, while reading the newspaper.
In the newspaper you will find many articles about people who engage in many different activities but who are also often designated as författare (writer): Sven Svensson, actor and författare; Camilla Johansson, yoga instructor and författare; Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister and författare.
It seems that any kind of printed material entitles you to be a författare, and some daily newspapers need to display book reviews in every edition in order to keep the pace and make all the författare happy.
Let’s be honest: I can understand that everybody agrees to call everybody else
a writer – that is an interesting form of collective vanity – but why so many
hairdressers? Some say it’s about money laundering. Or is it also about vanity?
People want to have nice blond hair and it is understandable. But as a bald French writer, I simply don’t exist here in Sweden: having little hair makes me invisible and
being a writer makes me very common.
I am considering wearing a wig and stopping my Swedish classes in order to remain relatively illiterate in the language of Swedenborg (no, this is not the name of my hairdresser). I shall refrain from writing even the slightest memoir on beard shaving.
But please don’t misunderstand me. I love Sweden and the Swedes. I respect any författare, any frisör, and I like fika, folkhem, filmjölk and feminism…
Sweden is just…fantastic.
Luis de Miranda is a French novelist, philosopher, editor and film director who has been in Stockholm for a year. He is also bald.