‘The Fly Trap’, by Fredrik Sjöberg

The Fly Trap, by Fredrik Sjöberg, Particular Books, RRP£14.99, 288 pages

Fredrik Sjöberg collects hover flies. The Swedish entomologist, who also works as a literary critic, translator and columnist, lives on the tiny island of Runmarö in the archipelago that lies to the east of Stockholm and each summer he heads out with his giant Malaise trap to collect the insects.

The Fly Trap is ostensibly about that routine, but it is also about far more. The book was a bestseller in Sweden, and its joy lies in Sjöberg’s loose-limbed prose. The book begins with his own interest in hover flies and then ranges far from this starting point to encompass everything from the organisation of his collection to René Malaise, the Swedish inventor of that giant trap, and on to travel, art, literature, islands and more.

Sjöberg traces a sort of erratic flight path of ideas and associations, at once whimsical and yet laden with erudition and a deep feeling for the natural world and our place in it.

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