The Unfree

The Unfree

Janne Lundström

Original Title
De ofria
Natur & Kultur, 2017
Young adult
, ,

The Unfree

Janne Lundström

Saint Barthélemy is a paradise.
That’s how my father had described the island in his letter.
But it was a lie.
Already the brig that brought me there was a lie.

The year is 1790 and fifteen-year-old Matilda sets foot on the Caribbean island of St. Barthélemy – a Swedish colony. After her mother’s death she is sent to live with her father, a merchant, whom she’s only met once. His housekeeper Beatrijs and her two twin sons: Witte Willem and Swarte Pieter (identical except for a slight difference in skin colour) live with him. Matilda soon realizes that the three of them are slaves and she is appalled by how her father treats them, and especially how differently he treats Willem and Pieter.
Desperately, Matilda tries to arrange for the twins to be freed, but her father will only meet her half way: Willem becomes a free man, Pieter does not. Matilda feels she needs to intervene and she soon comes up with a plan. A plan that puts her own safety at risk.

De ofria/The Unfree is a story of courage, but also about friendship and love under the brutal conditions of colonialism. Janne Lundström combines fiction with historical events, and the result is a rich, brutal and enthralling story to be remembered.

Press voices 

Besides the tumultuous events on a personal level, the story gives a wide and profound depiction of the circumstances in west India at that time. Lyrical depictions of nature acts like a contrast to the brutal slavery, where frightening contempt for people sends signals to the present. The thorough language gives a strong feeling of presence. Captivating, upsetting and delightful.” BTJ

Complex relationships in a racist world.” Svenska Dagbladet

The Unfree got my thirteen-year-old to tear himself from Snapchat. A very good rating” Mellanraderna-podden

It is also a very easy read, quick and written in a simple way. It contains a fascinating history lesson, filled with adventure, strong emotions and highly topical ideas.” Smålandsposten

His story personalizes colonialism and its slave trade. This is not about the other colonial countries, such as France and the United Kingdom, but about Sweden’s rarely depicted, as well as forgotten colonialism and slave trade. / … / The story that is told, and the history it describes, is so strong = horrible, that it is impossible to fend off.”  Opsis

A history lesson on slavery and Sweden’s role during colonialism.” Uppsalatidningen