Big in Sweden

Big in Sweden by Sally Franson available at American Swedish Institute.

Big in Sweden

Regular price $28.00
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A charming, wise, and laugh-out-loud funny novel following an American woman competing on a Swedish reality show in an attempt to discover her roots.

Paulie Johansson has never put much stock in the idea of family: she has her long-term boyfriend Declan and beloved best friend Jemma, and that’s more than enough for her. Yet one night on a lark, she lets Jemma convince her to audition for Sverige och Mig, a show on Swedish television where Swedish-Americans compete to win the ultimate prize: a reunion with their Swedish relatives. Much to her shock, her drunken submission video wins her a spot on the show, and against Declan’s advice Paulie decides to go for it.

Armed with her Polaroid camera, a beat-up copy of Pippi Longstocking, and an unquenchable sense of possibility, Paulie hops on a plane to Sweden and launches into the contest with seven other Americans, all under the watchful eye of a camera crew. At first, Paulie is certain that she and her competitors have nothing in common besides their passports and views their bloodthirsty ambitions with suspicion. Yet amid the increasingly absurd challenges—rowing from Denmark to Sweden in the freezing rain, battling through obstacle courses, competing in a pickled herring eating contest—Paulie finds herself rethinking her snap judgments about her fellow countrymen, while her growing attachment to her Swedish roots increases her resolve to win the competition herself.

Grappling with long-held notions of family, friendship, and love—not to mention her feelings for the distractingly handsome Swedish cameraman who’s been assigned to follow her around—Paulie starts to reconsider her past and rethink what she wants for the future. A fish-out-of-water tale filled with warmth, optimism, and wit, Big in Sweden is at its heart a love story: love for family, friends, country, and—most importantly—oneself. 

"If you devoured Pippi Longstocking as a kid, you will not be able to turn away from Big in Sweden. Reading this hilarious, heartfelt book was even more fun than watching reality television. I absolutely loved it!" — Jessica Anya Blau, author of Mary Jane

“Sally Franson is a world class entertainer. She can finesse a serio-comic moment in a way that leaves you catching your breath. Deft and delicious, this book is a flat out delight machine. A heart opener, a page turner, and a true ‘original!' I laughed out loud, I ugly cried, and I never, ever wanted it to end." -- Meg Ryan, actor, writer, director


Sally Franson grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, and was educated at Barnard College and the University of Minnesota. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Best American Travel Writing, and on NPR, among other places.

Her first novel, A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out was published in 2018. A screen adaptation by Meg Ryan with Netflix and Anonymous Content is in the works! In 2022, Sally was a special winner of Allt för Sverige, a Swedish reality TV show about finding your roots. By topping the other contestants through a series of challenges, Sally earned a reunion with newly discovered (and distant) relatives, which she called “one of the best days of my life, that happened to be filmed and shared with 1.4 million people.”