When I was a kid, I learned from my father that if you were to dig a deep enough hole in the ground, you would get to China. He forgot to tell me that along the way you would have to force your way through a mass of about five thousand degrees Celsius molten iron. Besides, he was wrong. If I were to make my way through the Earth’s interior, I’d get to Australia. Possibly New Zealand, I haven’t measured exactly.
It is more convenient to take the flight. I did so once in my relative youth, when I was going to travel off the same. Or, if it was my then girlfriend who ordered me, she had made a friend through a genealogy project who lived north of Wellington. They had become friends when my girlfriend, in her research, had come across this person’s great-great-great-grandfather in a poor village in southern Sweden, plagued by tax charges and the strict church. Around the turn of the last century, hundreds of thousands of Swedes left for America and a new and better life. Some went even further afield. At least one of them ended up in New Zealand. And reproduced. For generations.
The flight almost never ended. We stayed one night in Bangkok to breathe in some exhaust. Next night in Sydney. We had time to see the Opera House, it looked just like it does on the internet. On to Wellington. In a rental car. Driving through the countryside. And (to tell it like it is), the driver needed to make a short stop to take a piss. When I had done my business – and this is true! – a New Zealander sheep had stepped into the car and settled in the front passenger seat. My girlfriend and I tried to talk some sense into it, but it’s with New Zealand sheep the way it is with Donald Trump, I was about to say. In short: We did not click, on an intellectual level.
I recollect getting a hoof in my stomach, but eventually we solved the situation. My girlfriend’s genealogy friend proved to be lovely, and a few days later we went back home again. Without a bunch of stopovers.
That is essentially my experience with Oceania. Possibly adding that my beloved cousin’s beloved daughter discovered Australia some decade ago and found out that the best way to get someone to buy her a beer was to say that “my dad’s cousin has written The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.” I should have ten percent of all the money she made from it, but that’s not who I am.
Anyway. I am telling the truth when I’m saying that I’d like to discover Oceania for real. I’m looking forward to it, what if I can also talk my way into getting a free beer by saying that I’m the cousin of a man whose daughter is related to the author of… And so on.
Memories are an important ingredient in my writing. I collect them, mix them with each other, distort them – and out comes (at best) a novel worth reading by Jonas Jonasson.
In my latest work, Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd, I send a true Maasai warrior to northern Europe. There he meets an extraordinary entrepreneur, an unscrupulous art dealer – and a young couple who have every reason in the world to demand revenge. I spice this up with two expressionist works of art. But who painted them? Who owns them, and, – above all – what does the Pope have to do everything?
I wish you a nice read. But most of all, I wish to one day meet the true Australia. The true New Zealand. To be honest, I can do without both opera houses and sheep. But the people!