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Baklava i vetenskaplig artikel

4 december, 2017

Det är en märklig känsla när en bok som man har gjort blir analyserad vetenskapligt. I det här fallet gäller det en akademisk artikel i tidskriften Lir.Journal nr 9/1917. Det är en elektronisk tidskrift för litteratur, idéhistoria och religion som ges ut av Göteborgs universitet. Nu handlar det om genusvetenskap …

Intressant att läsa om poststrukturalism m.m. i Pia Halses och mitt verk. Men framför allt roligt att se hur Hermansson och Nordenstam har lyckats fånga essensen i vårt bild- och textberättande. De har fått ut mycket av vår lilla bok genom en klok och reflekterande läsning där de inte bara bedömer ”storyn” som text utan hela verket både konstnärligt och narrativt. Vi får beröm för vår nyansering och de olika lagren i berättelsen. De tycker att Baklava på ett egensinnigt sätt sticker ut från huvudfåran i genderlitteraturen och det är ju precis som vi själv har velat. Jättekul!

Utdrag ur Kristina Hermansson & Anna Nordenstam,

»A New Niche in Children’s Literature« s. 108-110:

” I WANT BAKLAVA” : CHALLENGING NARRATIVE

STANDARDS BUT CONFIRMING INDIVIDUALISTIC

NORMS?

As Jönsson claims, most self-stated norm-critical books

reproduce socio-realistic narrative standards. This is partly

confirmed by our study, though we would now like to add some

nuances. Jag vill ha baklava [I want baklava] was published

in 2010 by Olika förlag. It is written by Kalle Güettler and

illustrated by the Danish illustrator Pia Halse. The book has

no straightforward narrative and contains some quite experimental

pictures in which various textual and visual elements

merge. There are free flying heads and big balloons ‘bleed’ from

one page into the other. Sometimes the reader needs to turn

the book upside down to be able to read the text.

 

The cover features a picture of a man with a gigantic, black

moustache and huge eyebrows. He wears a yellow T-shirt with

a peace symbol. On top of the man’s hat, there is a little spy

wearing a hat and shoes. To the right there is a black-haired

child wearing a purple dress. This is Perian and the man is her

father. The story has a first person narrator, whose name or

gender is not mentioned. He/she lives with her two mothers

and a sibling, Kim.

 

The plot is quite simple: after having tasted Perian’s baklava,

the main character/first person narrator is determined to get

hold of more. The main character is not visually portrayed until

the last spread and is not explicitly gendered either in the text

or the images on the last spread. He/she looks like a smaller

version of one of the mums, with curly red hair. The visual

depiction of Kim on the other hand reminds of the portrayal of

the other mother, but with glasses.

 

The parents are both busy with meetings and cannot help

their child buy or bake baklava. Neither of them even seem to

have heard of baklava, leading to several misunderstandings

and a play on words. One of the mums asks if baklava is

healthy or cheap, thus representing a disciplinary adult world

that the narrator rejects. When Kim tells the main character to

check on the web about how to bake baklava, he/she strangely

enough does not search the Internet. Instead, a visual and

textual investigation of the different meanings (of the Swedish)

word for web [»nät«], such as spider web, toy railway and

fishing net, develops across subsequent spreads.

 

Eventually, the main character/first person narrator visits

Perian, but only because Perian’s father has promised to help

him/her baking baklava. After the baking is done, as he/she

arrives back home, the parents are angry because their child

did not give them a call to tell them where he/she was. Thus,

the first person character/narrator now repeats the phrase that

one of the mothers utters at the beginning: »I did not have the

time«, the child says and continues: »I had to bake baklava.«

The last page presents a detailed recipe.

 

The main character is certainly presented as a competent

child, even if he/she is far from being typical of contemporary

children’s literature regarding technological competence –

this young person seems to be totally unaware of the Internet.

Nevertheless, the narrator is presented as highly competent at

getting what he/she wants, no matter what it takes.

»I want baklava« certainly broadens out representations

of whiteness, ethnicity, sexuality, family norms and gender.

In addition, it departs from the idea of a transparent mode

of narrating, both textually and visually. In contrast to most

of our selected titles, it challenges the ideal standard of a

straightforward mode of narrating, accompanied by realistic,

more or less symmetrical, illustrations. The textual-visualrelation

is more complex and playful than in most of the

Namnlös

Image 2. »I want Baklava« by Kalle Güettler and Pia Halse.

other examples. Rather than »throwing stereotypes out«, it

visually utilizes the cliché of the »oriental« man by combining

stereotypical features (such as a gigantic black moustache and

huge eyebrows) with non-stereotypical features (the hippie

T-shirt, baking skills, badminton).

»I want baklava« does not merely broaden the range of representation

but also emphasizes the ambivalence, contradictions

and surplus that language produces. This relates to the poststructuralist

understanding of meaning-making as a complex,

contradictory process that cannot be fully regulated, since every

utterance carries an unintended surplus. This approach blurs

every simplistic understanding of representation. Yet, the story

clearly has a didactic ambition. The main character’s statement

at the beginning, that one has to do everything by oneself, is

only partly confirmed. Certainly the main character is able to

fulfil his/her wishes, though not without help from others.”

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