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The trial shocked Sweden and meant there was no Nobel prize for literature in 2018. But long before Jean-Claude Arnault was jailed for rape, I met him I was in my early 20s. I thought of myself as a poet, well aware of the rule that you couldn’t call yourself one until you had had a book of poems published. In Stockholm, where I lived, a place called Forum had opened for people interested in poetry and art; it called itself a contemporary space for culture. In those days, the late 80s, it attracted a young, elitist crowd, where everyone shared a rather earnest desire for profound experiences. I didn’t feel threatened by any of it. My parents were both well-known writers; my father a literary critic, my mother a poet and translator. I had no writer friends of my own age. I had fallen into the gap between an adult world to which I did not yet belong, and a young person’s world that was mostly about sex and alcohol. I loved to dance. I loved going to nightclubs. The music, the anonymous backs at the bar, the dark corners. The smells of perfume, sweat, spilled drinks. The little details of men and women: a woman’s shirt, dazzling white; a thin gold chain in a cleavage. Sometimes there were men I liked, or desired. I made it a point of honour to salute them, make a small bow, and turn on my heel. Sometimes the farewell itself worked as a seduction technique. Continue reading...