Swedish title: Föreställningar

Category: Fiction / General Fiction

Pub date: 16-08-2019


Thom Lundberg

From the award-winning author Thom Lundberg comes REFRACTIONS, a literary search for universal truth set in the world of opera

Johan, returning to work at The Royal Opera in Stockholm after a bad break-up and ensuing sick leave, is tasked with documenting the production of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. In his foggy post-traumatic state, Johan remarks on the similarities between himself and Canio, the lead character in the opera.

At grief counselling he meets Agnes, a young writer, who quickly becomes entangled in his life as she tries to help the confused and broken Johan. But when Agnes finds the diary of Johan’s ex-girlfriend, Elin, in his flat, a new side to his character and the events that led up to the break-up emerge, shocking Agnes into action.

Elin and Johan’s different perspectives of the same episode create a warp, an oblique space, as they—and Agnes— in turn, pan in and out of the role as victim and perpetrator, participant and observer, abuser and abused. A narrative framed by the characters and storyline of Pagliacci, what emerges is a multifaceted tour-de-force, and an assured, new voice in literary writing, akin to Lena Andersson’s Wilful Disregard.

In the post-MeToo world, REFRACTIONS is a novel exploring guilt and retribution, penetrating the concepts of accountability, victimisation and shame. It’s also a novel about violence, particularly male violence against women, and society’s understanding thereof. There are always two sides to a story; can we ever know the truth?

Elisabet Brännström

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