"The Uffda Trial" by Gerald Anderson is a fictional account of what life was like in rural Northwestern Minnesota in 1926. It not only describes the lifestyle and mindset of the Scandinavian farmers in the area but also puts the events of the day into political and historical context. Much of the dialogue used in the novel replicates the often humorous and unvarnished accent, style, and mannerisms of the second and third generation families. It is enjoyable, informative and, the author claims, based on an actual case.
The action is set in the fictitious town of Vingelen, the residents of whom are half Swedish and half Norwegian. Vingelen was extremely insular, and the residents were less assimilated into American life than might be expected, given their longevity in this country. But the larger outside world was beginning to influence everyday life due to the advent of the radio, telephone and movies.
One day, there were posters advertising a series of films that appeared in Vingelen that proclaimed a free 11 - month old baby would be given away at the film festival. This set the town abuzz. Since there was so little in the way of entertainment that came to Vingelen, virtually all of the residents wanted to go the festival, particularly to find out who was going to get the baby. While the whole idea sounded preposterous, everyone wanted to find out what happened.
The film festival was also a scam, but the townsfolk seemed to accept it as a lesson learned. However, a number of the younger residents decided that they would take justice into their own hands by pelting the promoter with rotten eggs. This resulted in a criminal trial for assault and battery, which was the center of attention for this town
The trial is a comic disaster. Everyone knew the verdict before it was announced. The jury was mostly interested in the free meals provided, and the defendants thought standing trial was better than having to do their farm chores.
This book is recommended to lawyers and non-lawyers alike, especially those of Scandinavian descent.