Ivar Lo-Johansson (23.02.1901 – 11.04.1990) was a Swedish writer of the proletarian school whose autobiographical 1979 memoir, ‘Pubertet’ (Puberty), won the ‘Nordic Council Literature Prize‘ in 1979. Born Ivar Johansson in Ösmo in a family of bound (unfree) agricultural labourers, during the 1920s he travelled in Europe and his early books were travel books depicting the working-class in France and England. Lo-Johansson wrote over 50 proletarian novels and short-stories, all of which carried vivid portrayals of working-class people. In his novels, short stories, and journalism he described the situation of the Swedish land-workers (‘statare’), encouraging the adoption of land reforms in Sweden. He also caused much controversy with his features on old-age pensioners, gypsies, and other non-privileged people. He died, aged 89, in Stockholm. Lo-Johansson first came to the literary fore in the mid-1930s with the publication of his novel ‘Godnatt, jord‘ (Good night, earth, 1933) and two short story collections: his stories were infused with realistic and detailed depictions of the plight of landless Swedish peasants, known as ‘statare’. The first collection of short stories to be published was ‘Statarna I–II’ (1936–37; The Sharecroppers), followed by the novel ‘Jordproletärerna’ (1941; Proletarians of the Earth). Autobiographical to a large extent, these works were nevertheless more than one man’s story: they were a potent attack on the prevalent social conditions, especially the inequality in Swedish society. Lo-Johansson’s books combined political astuteness and literary craftsmanship to such a competent degree that they are regarded as the stimulant behind the labor movement that ultimately led to the abolition of indentured farm labor in 1945. Lo-Johansson is best known for his vivid recollections of the life in Swedish trade-unionist and literary circles of the twenties, thirties and forties. He also continued throughout his long life to insist that literature should face the world from the under-dog’s perspective. Lo-Johansson’s works are characterized by a vivid expression of individual human suffering: a great example of this motif is the character of the farm servant’s wife in ‘Only A Mother’ (1939). He also explored the conflict between individualism and collectivism extensively in his autobiographical series of eight novels: he published the series in the 1950s with ‘The Illiterate’ (1951), releasing the last book in the series, ‘The Proletarian Writer’, in 1960. In the 1970s, he wrote numerous short stories dealing with the seven deadly sins. In the 1980s, he wrote several memoirs. Ivar Los park on Mariaberget, Stockholm, is named after him and on Bastugatan there is a bronze bust of him by Nils Möllerberg; the ‘Ivar Lo Society’ preserves his apartment in Stockholm as a museum. The Stockholm city library describes Lo-Johansson as “one of our greatest proletarian writers” and an “innovator of Swedish realistic prose, engaged with social issues like care of the elderly and the question of tied labour.”

Selected Bibliography
Vagabondliv i Frankrike (1927)
Kolet i våld. Skisser från de engelska gruvarbetarnas värld (1928)
Ett lag historier (1928)
Nederstigen i dödsriket. Fem veckor i Londons fattigvärld (1929)
Zigenare. En sommar på det hemlösa folkets vandringsstigar (1929)
Mina städers ansikten (1930)
Jag tvivlar på idrotten (1931)
Måna är död (1932)
Godnatt, jord (1933)
Kungsgatan (1935)
Statarna (1936–37)
Jordproletärerna (1941)
Bara en mor (1939)
Traktorn (1943)
Geniet (1947)
“En proletärförfattares självbiografi” (1951–60)
Analfabeten (1951)
Gårdfarihandlaren (1953)
Stockholmaren (1954)
Elektra Kvinna år 2070 (1967)
“Passionssviten” (1968–72)
Lyckan (1962)
Astronomens hus (1966)
Ordets makt (1973)
Lastbara berättelser (1974)
Memoirs (1978–85)
Pubertet. (1978)
Asfalt. (1979)
Tröskeln. (1982)
Frihet. (1985)
Till en författare (1988)
Skriva för livet (1989)
Blå jungfrun (posthumous, 1990)
Tisteldalen (posthumous, 1990)