Based on a real event, The Uffda Trial is set in the fictitious western Minnesota town of Vingelen, an extremely homogenous Scandinavian community, in 1926. It may be the “Roaring Twenties,” but 23-year-old Karl Thorson has had to quit high school to work on the family farm. He longs to be an independent farmer, and perhaps even find a wife, but he has yet to find a woman he would want to marry.
While attending a dance in a neighboring community, Karl meets Julie, and it appears to be a mutual attraction. However, as he attempts to learn more about her, Karl discovers that her unusually evasive father is promoting a moving-picture show in Vingelen and has actually promised to give away an eleven-month-old baby as a door prize at the film screening.
The show takes place, but the people of Vingelen become outraged at what has clearly been a swindle and literally begin to take the law into their own hands, throwing eggs at the traveling scoundrel. Karl is mistakenly caught up in the action and forced to stand trial for the assault, along with eight other young men. The trial quickly becomes a comic fiasco. Will it spell doom for Karl and Julie’s budding romance?
The dialogue used in the novel is a careful reproduction of the manner and accent of the first- and second-generation Scandinavian-Americans in Minnesota. And of course, the meaning of “Uffda” is articulately explained.