Benjamin sees the shape of his two brothers trying to kill each other. It’s no worthy finale, but perhaps it’s also no surprise. How else had they expected this to end? What did they think would happen when they returned at last to the place they had spent their lives trying to flee?
Three brothers return to the cottage by the lake where, over two decades before, a catastrophe changed the course of their lives. They have come to spread their mother’s ashes. That her final wish was to rest alone by the lake and not beside their late father was revealed only the night before her planned funeral.
Benjamin drives the car down the old gravel road, his brothers beside him. His journey is through a familiar landscape, but also through time: here they are as boys, sun-tanned legs and hungry eyes, children left to fend for themselves in a family where the adults have checked out; there they are as young men, estranged but bound to one another by the history that defines them. The brothers are at once one body and fiercely separate, their youth spent competing for their father’s favor and their mother’s elusive love in a home that was riddled like a mine field.
Always the observer, Benjamin stands between his brothers as the family’s command center, on the watch for arguments looming on the edges. But as the years unfold, Benjamin grows increasingly untethered from reality, frozen in place while life carries on around him. And between the brothers a dangerous current now vibrates. What really happened that summer day when everything was blown to pieces?
The Survivors is a devastating story of a family falling apart and a stunning chronicle of a mind unravelling in the wake of a tragedy. Told in dual narratives, with one timeline tracing backward from the story’s dramatic finale and the other moving forward toward the inevitable moment of impact, this cyclical novel explores the relationship between siblings and the way in which the intimate bond of brotherhood opens up for the greatest betrayal of all.
Sweden’s literary luminary Alex Schulman weaves his tale with singular elegance and the drive of a suspense novel, finally lowering the curtain with a shattering twist.
“Schulman is quite simply a master of portraying emotions and at making the immediacy of the text run through your body like an electrical shock.”
Tidningen Vi (SE)
“Alex Schulman skillfully navigates through a vulnerable adolescence. His writing is emotionally arresting, it’s impossible to resist.”
INGALILL MOSSANDER, AFTONBLADET