The Father by Anton Svensson

The Father by Anton Svensson

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The words are fiction. The story is true. The Father is about three brothers and the different relationships they had with their father; a violent man with rage and anger against the world. Unfortunately, his wife was at the receiving end. His sons have only known violence. They did well in their twenty-four short years. Never committed a crime; until they steal enough fire power for a small army and rob ten banks in two years.

Anton Svensson isn’t real but the events are. Firstly, we have Anders Roslund, an award-winning investigative journalist. Roslund has provided the fiction. Second, we have Stefan Thunberg who provided the fact. Stefan made his own way as a screen writer while his brothers become Sweden’s most notorious bank robbers, dubbed Militärligan (The Military Gang). One of my favourite things about experiencing this book was reading around it afterwards. I particularly liked an article in the Guardian: “My younger brother called me after reading the book and said: ‘Stefan, I hate you, but I love this fucking book.’ Then he hung up the phone and for nine months we didn’t speak.”

This book is more than holding up banks with AK-47s. It’s one big examination into that old debate: Nature vs Nurture. Are we born violent? Is violence inherited? Do we learn violence? These brothers are born from violence, they experience it. However, the slightly clichéd detective (an outcast who throws him into work because he has nothing and a drinking problem) that is tasked to find their identity has had a similar upbringing. He’s fighting crime not profiting and revelling it in.

You are gripped and fascinated by the brother’s dedication: the planning and the rehearsals and the sheer amount of money they take. Ten robberies in two years. You can’t read it fast enough and yet you want to take your time. It is beautifully written, from the Swedish scenery to the blood dripping. The author’s made me feel pity for the boys; victims as much as they are criminals. “Weapons like tools, violence like a craft, schooled in excessive force.” What choice did they have?

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