Mikael Yvesand hero

Luleå According to Author Mikael Yvesand

A very different guide from the author of Häng City.

Photo: Viktor Gårdsäter
December 2023
Mikael Yvesand’s novel Häng City, for which he won the Borås Tidning Best Debut Author Prize for 2023, describes a summer in Luleå over 20 years ago, when the narrator has just finished sixth grade. The author here provides a personal and entertaining guide to Luleå, highlighting the experience of someone who grew up in the city but no longer lives there.

Your book Häng City is set in Luleå in 1999. Tell us a bit about the importance of the city to the novel.

It felt like the perfect city for the story I wanted to tell. Everything is quite flat and pale but with a steel mill rumbling on the edge of town. I often remember the summers as being quite warm, maybe a little overcast at times. For me, the neighborhoods in Luleå are very distinct, even though the city is relatively small—but I’m sure that’s something everyone thinks about their home town, which might not be obvious to an outsider.

How has Luleå changed since 1999?

Every time I go back, I find that something new has been added, and a lot has disappeared. All the places I remember, old schools and so on, have shrunk. It’s a strange phenomenon that defies the laws of nature and should be studied.

Which restaurants are not to be missed?

The food place in Örnäset (the inspiration for the novel’s “Food City”), perhaps. However, I am vegan, and I don’t know if they serve much that I can eat. Many of the places mentioned in the book, such as Pizzeria Izmir in Björkskatan and the grill in the center of Hertsö, are unfortunately no longer there. My dad and his wife are big fans of Pastabacken.

Bishop's Arms Luleå
Photo: Shutterstock

Where is best place for wine/beer or coffee?

When I was young, usually someone’s basement. Now when I’m visiting, people usually take me to the Bishop’s Arms, which is a nice place with a good selection of beers, like Budvar on tap and stuff like that.

Is there a local specialty and where is the best place to get it?

It’s nice to sit in the stands at the theater in the summer, by the little glass stage, and look out over the water. You can also go to Laponia. I’ve never done it myself, but I’m sure it’s fun. Gültzauudden and Svartöstaden are nice areas just to walk around in. There’s a cool mall called Shopping. I’ve been told it’s the world’s first indoor shopping mall (this could of course be disinformation from Shopping Holdings Ltd).

What’s your favorite cultural experience?

I saw Håkan Hellström play live outdoors in the middle of winter, in front of about 50 people back in 2000. You can go to the Norrbottens Museum and try on an old hat—it’s good fun. My friend Jocke has a studio in town where you can drink beer and listen to him play guitar for his band, Huggorm. Message him and he’ll get you in. There is a lot of great music coming out of Luleå. Here are a few songs to check out (I could give a thousand more; Luleå is a city that has produced so many great musical artists):

Mikael Yvesand's Luleå playlist

Mary Go Round – Into the Morgue

Breach – Old Ass Player

Fireside – Sweatbead

Mattias Alkberg – Mitt smutsiga blod

Raised Fist – Get This Right!

The Bear Quartet – Helpless

Könsförrädare – Raging River

Hurula – 22

The Bells – After Summer

Petter Granberg – BLÅTT SKEN

Kristofer Åström – Poor Young Man’s Heart

Rekyl – En förlorad generation

Luleå winter trees
Photo: Unsplash

Is there a walk or excursion in nature that you particularly enjoy?

We used to drive out to the old reservoirs in Karlsvik and throw stones in the water—I don’t really know why. Ormberget was exciting to walk around as a child. Sometimes you noticed that the stone slab you were walking on became hollow and curved inwards under your feet, and it turned out to be some military storage facility. I hope I’m not revealing state secrets now. If I am, I refer you to the editor-in-chief of Scandinavian Traveler.

Any other personal favorites?

Teknikens Hus, a science museum in Luleå, was great. You stood and shouted swearwords to each other in those satellite dishes. You made your own paper (which was always so useless; I question the definition of “paper” at Teknikens Hus). You drove the radio-controlled boats into each other. You stared blankly ahead and thought about how long life was.

Text by Daniel Björk