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CULTURE | 11.04.2017

Book Club: Unvollkommene Verbindlichkeiten by Lena Andersson

The Swedes are known for their rather sober and clear language of form not only when it comes to interior design. The Swedish author Lena Andersson, in her recently published novel Unvollkommene Verbindlichkeiten, also applies it to her writing and succeeds in poignantly putting the most enigmatic, most beautiful and also most questionable emotion in a nutshell: love.

Lena Andersson made it onto the bestseller lists of her home country with her very first novel, Wilful Disregard (“Widerrechtliche Inbesitznahme”), and its honest and raw view of things. In 2013 she even won the prestigious August prize in the fiction category for it. At the centre of the book is the 31-year-old poet Ester Nilsson, who falls in love with the artist Hugo Rask. What seems like a perfect love story at the beginning, soon turns out to be one-sided. While Ester desperately tries to come up with ever more banal reasons for the fact that he stops sending her messages, she, too, eventually has to come to terms with reality.

In the current novel, Unvollkommene Verbindlichkeiten, Hugo Rask has long been over and done with. And Ester in addition has decided that nothing like this will ever happen to her again. Does this sound familiar to you? This novel of the 46-year-old, too, is free of metaphors like “being on cloud 9” or “seeing things through rose-coloured glasses”. Rather than building oversized castles in the air in Hollywood style, Andersson this time, too, describes love just the way it really is: unreckonable, unpredictable, confusing and anything but immaculate. A book that is soothing to the soul in the age of Instagram filters and of playing hide-and-seek behind one’s online self.

Author photo: Ulla Montan
Cover photo: Luchterhand Literaturverlag