The main ingredient in the recipes for Swedish hash, a dish known among the peasants of remote northern villages for its delectability and restorative powers, differ widely. The meats, offal, and grain that go into its preparation - an elaborate process of boiling, pickling, steaming, and stewing - can range from the heinous to the dangerous, and the results can be alternately emetic and sublime. The search for the most delicious dish of hash - the ultimate hash - forms the backbone of the blackly comic, marvellously innovative new novel from one of Sweden's most esteemed and best-selling authors. In a small town where an epidemic of tuberculosis rages, two very different men arrive to a scene of suffering accepted by the inhabitants not with stoicism or as a test of fate, but almost with glee. Robert Maser is a travelling garment salesman whose accent and demeanour betray the fact that he is actually the fugitive Martin Borman, the Nazi leader rumoured to have slipped past Red Army lines during the fall of Berlin. He engages the local schoolteacher, Lars, on the bizarre quest to find world's best hash, and together they wander the Swedish countryside, inviting themselves into peasant homes to sample the variety of humble family recipes. As their search becomes more impassioned, it becomes clear that their goal is much more than a culinary marvel, and that what they've really been seeking is the force of life that must present itself even in dark times.
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