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Writing is Like a Drag Performance | Writer Tone Schunnesson | Louisiana Channel


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“You drag yourself into something excessive when you write. It’s cool to play with the commercialization of literature because it’s so prohibited and crude and in such bad taste.” Meet Tone Schunnesson, a new and highly praised voice in Swedish literature.

Tone Schunnesson knew she wanted to be a writer since she was a child. She started out as a reader of Bukowski, Ginsberg, Hemingway, and other writers who wrote about being writers, leading a certain kind of life, even though Schunnesson was only 13 years old. For Tone Schunnesson, writing became a symbol of freedom. For a long time, she blogged and wrote a diary but didn’t consider this “real writing”. It was feminine and too private.

Schunnesson describes how sending in her first novel and being rejected was tough on her ego. And her life turned into “a pathetic TV series”, having part-time jobs and being sacked, going to Thailand (“clinically depressed and I had no money”) was a starting point in her writing when a friend told her to write about these experiences in her novel.

What happens to you if you don’t resist the world’s desire to consume you is a question Tone Schunnesson finds interesting. This interest is also connected to the world of fame and money: “I’m obsessed with celebrities. I’m obsessed with influencers. I have many acquaintances who, in various ways, have commercialized themselves and are their own brands. That world interests me. I’m also interested in the precarious labour market and the precarious work situation and what it does to us not just politically, but also spiritually,” Schunnesson says.

“The brand-building is increasingly part of the writer’s role. And it also serves as protection against being a brand. I really think my writing is an attempt to reach someone and to be reached. And then it’s natural to put yourself out there, and it’s fun”.” But there are also things in social media that are very performative that interests me.” “Life is like a casino. What you have is what you’ve learned from a lot of drag queens. Life can be to be a writer for a night, or life can be glamorous for an afternoon in this room. Then you play that game, and afterwards, you go home and hate yourself and write your book and feel disgusted and frightened. But next Saturday, I’ll be a writer again. It’s fantasy.”

Tone Schunnesson (b. 1988) is a Swedish writer. Her dad had a bookstore, and her mother was a folk musician. So, sung storytelling was always part of her life. She attended Biskops Arnö writing school in Sweden and made her debut in 2016 with ‘Tripprapporter’. In 2020 came her second novel ‘Dagarna, dagarna, dagarna’. Schunnesson is a columnist for the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.

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Tone Schunnesson was interviewed by Danish writer Amalie Langballe in August 2021 in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.

Camera & edit: Jakob Solbakken
Produced by Christian Lund

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021.

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling

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