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Martin Berg owns a small publishing house that has fallen upon hard times. Spread around him in his Gothenburg apartment are the well-thumbed pages of a manuscript he has spent a lifetime trying to finish writing and the traces of his two children with whom he has increasing difficulty connecting. As Martin faces the inevitability of middle age, the great trauma of his life begins to rear its head once more. Many years ago, Martin’s wife Cecilia walked out of the family’s home and out of their lives – without a trace. What happened to Cecilia and what made her abandon her husband, her children, and the life they had built together?

We move back in time to when Martin and Cecilia met as young intellectuals studying at the university. At their side was always their friend, the deeply troubled artist Gustav Becker. The three friends were devoted to each other and to their work – Martin as a writer, Cecilia as an academic and Gustav as a painter. But while Martin never succeeded in fulfilling his dream of becoming a writer, Gustav became an important contemporary painter, and, before disappearing into thin air, Cecilia showed proof of being a truly remarkable academic mind.

Back in the present we meet Rakel, Martin’s twenty-year-old daughter. Rakel is also reaching a point of crisis: as her hometown of Gothenburg prepares for a retrospective of famous painter and her godfather Gustav Becker’s work, she can’t avoid the images of her lost mother who is featured prominently in nearly all of Gustav’s paintings. Who was the enigmatic Cecilia? Muse to Gustav, wife to Martin, and true perhaps only to herself. When Rakel discovers a clue that could lead her to answers about what happened to her mother, she sets out on a journey through memory and across the European continent in search of the truth.

Collected Works is a radiant debut that catapulted the fiercely talented Lydia Sandgren onto the international stage. At once a poignant bildungsroman, a blazing chronicle of lifelong friendship, and a sweeping family saga with the drive of a mystery, Collected Works poses questions about love, power and art – and what leads us to make the pivotal decisions that change the course of our lives.

Extra Materials

sandgren_cover Croatia, Oceanmore
Finland, WSOY Finland, WSOY
Danish cover Denmark, Politiken
b_h21_gesammelte_werke_sandgren Germany, Mare
Italy cover Italy, Mondadori
Skärmavbild 2022-12-19 kl. 10.32.52 Lithuania, Alma Littera
Netherlands cover The Netherlands, Oevers
Spanish cover Spain, Tres Hermanas
Skärmavbild 2022-08-26 kl. 10.33.21 Russia, AST
Skärmavbild 2022-11-11 kl. 11.09.40 Georgia, MTP
specialutgåva Norway, Armada
3 UK, Pushkin Press
Namnlöst US, Astra House

Reviews

“Sandgren hooks the reader with an absorbing, multilayered plot that shifts between past and present, building slowly towards the emotional and narrative mystery at its heart.”
Booklist (US)

“[A] sweeping and complex drama of family, art, and sacrifice . . . Readers will be captivated.”
Publishers Weekly (US)

“Lydia Sandgren is a debut author, but she writes this novel as if she’s done nothing else for decades…”
Svenska Dagbladet (SE)

“The brilliance of these almost 700 pages casts a shadow over most contemporary Swedish literature.”
Aftonbladet (SE)

“It makes me ecstatic that literature can be this too: a doorstopper of narrative joy, cultivation, and linguistic delight.”
Borås Tidning (SE)

Collected Works is simply an outstanding, remarkable, noteworthy debut – I actually can’t think of more superlatives right now!”
Kristianstadsbladet (SE)

“With this debut, Lydia Sandgren steps forward as a new writer of great importance. Collected Works enriches Swedish writing with extraordinary fiction.”
Sydsvenskan (SE)

“A well written, addictive brick of a novel.”
Elle (SE)

Collected Works is a dramturgical masterpiece and as groundbreaking as any Donna Tartt novel. (…) If I’m to make further comparisons I have to bring out phenomenal storytellers like Klas Östergren and Kjell Westö.”
Expressen (SE)

Collected Works is a weighty and moving novel, and simultaneously entertaining.”
Göteborgs-Posten (SE)

“If there is one thing that Lydia Sandgren has accomplished it is the stirring of emotions.(…) Collected Works is without a doubt the most hyped work of literary fiction published in Sweden this year.”
Kapprakt (SE)

“The hottest debut of the year! If Klas Östergren and Donna Tartt had a love child, who grew up in Gothenburg and became an author, well, there you have Lydia Sandgren.”
Akademibokhandeln (SE)

“Sandgren’s language and storytelling gives life to the minutest of detail – and nothing is left to chance.”
KULT Magasin (SE)

“Neat as in a perfectly composed pop song – catchy, bombastic, irresistable…What’s left to say, therefore, is just that we hope that it doesn’t take another ten years for Sandgren to write her next book.”
Weekendavisen (DK)

“The Swedish debut author Lydia Sandgren has written a highly recommended novel, which is as smart as a funny and perfect parody on the sagacious. It is impactful, fundamentally captivating and begs to be read.”
Politiken (DK)

“Extremely well written and bursting with classical knowledge.”
Kristeligt Dagblad (DK)

“In true Domestic-Noir fashion, it is the mystery of the disappeared female genius that makes Collected Works an addictive reading experience, and Sandgren’s ability to pick up (truly) every lead and weave them together into an elegant narrative is nothing short of true craftmanship.”
Weekendavisen (DK)

“Lydia Sandgren’s ambitious debut novel became a huge happening in Sweden. (…) Collected Works is a voluminous, humoristic novel with a serious undertone. Simply put, it is a wonderful book that is hard to put down once you start reading it. It was somewhat of an event when Lydia Sandgren debuted last year with a large scale novel of over 700 pages. For a debutant to write such an ambitious piece of work is rare; one could mention the anglo-palestinian Isabella Hammad’s 600-page historical genealogical novel The Parisian from 2019 as a comparison. It is even more impressive when the brick-heavy debut novel is both well written, humanly enthralling, captivating and funny.”
Information (DK)

Collected Works is remarkably well written.”
tidsskriftet-epsilon.dk (DK)

“Neat as in a perfectly composed pop song – catchy, bombastic, irresistable…What’s left to say, therefore, is just that we hope that it doesn’t take another ten years for Sandgren to write her next book.” Weekendavisen (DK)

“With her Collected Works, the author has cemented her love for literature – and we hope she does it again.”
Birgitte (DE)

“[The novel] is about friendship and love, art and literature, and about a woman and the family in which she leaves a gaping hole when she disappears. Monumental!”
Emotion (DE)

“The novel’s strength is its characters. Depicted with a great sense for detail.”
Die Presse am Sonntag (DE)

“The real protagonist in Lydia Sandgren’s 874-page debut – together with the other characters populating the story – is literature itself.”
Das Magasin (DE)

“Lydia Sandgren etches a sophisticated psychological portrait of Sweden from the very first until the last page.”
Das Magasin (DE)

“She creates a deep and impressive universe.”
Weltwoche (DE)

“[The book] is perfect when you want to immerse yourself completely in a story over a period of time, it is actually a bit like watching a Scandinavian series: Sandgren takes her time (but not too much time) to develop her characters and their arcs; it is all described very lifelike, without delving too far into explanation, the dialogue is good and it is accessible.”
Nacht und tag, Blog (DE)

“A grand artist- and growth novel with convincing characters that – despite its roughly 900 pages – never becomes dull; it persuades with its fascinating characters.”
Ruhr Nachrichten (DE)

“Sandgren is light, clairvoyant and exhibits her joy in writing. The way in which she presents Berg’s thoughts on a bond with a culture-loving writer anticipates his withdrawal stylistically. Her sarcasm when she distances herself from the characters and humors them in vivid imagery is delightful. There is talk about Karl Ove Knausgård’s autofiction, but Sandgren never looses herself in literary navel-gazing. She guides her characters through Gothenburg, Paris, Stockholm; shakes up the Swedish self-image since the death of Olof Palme and makes us experience Chernobyl again, describes restaurants and living spaces with enthusiasm for trendy detail. (…) You can learn a lot from her – that literature actually has no end.” Westfälischer Anzeiger (DE)

“What a strong debut!”
literaturleuchtet, Blog (DE)

“[The novel] addresses weighty subjects such as family, relationships, coming of age, love, art and life’s inevitable setbacks. But most of all it is about falling and standing back up again – something we are all familiar with. It is actually many small books in one large work.”
Ein Fest des Lesens. | Klappentexterin und Herr Klappentexter (DE)

“Lydia Sandgren has written an exceptional debut.”
Coffecakesandbooks, Blog (DE)

“No book by a Scandinavian author has been so received in the Netherlands since ’Max, Mischa & the Tet Offensive’ by Norwegian Johan Harstad became a bestseller in 2016.”
Bookstore Donner (NL)

”A brilliant book.”
Wouter Cajot of Bookstore Stad Leest, Antwerp (NL)

“A beautiful, intriguing story.”
Grietje Braaksma, Bookstore Broese, Book of the Week on NPO Radio 4 (NL)

“The build-up is full of cliffhangers, which gives the rich story a lot of momentum. Category page turner for autumn days.”
Book of the month November at Bookstore Scheltema (NL)

“This book grabs me, pulls me along, dances with me and shouts, ’Come a little further! Come on! Immerse yourself! Hold me all night!”
Bookstore Stevens (NL)

“This novel has everything a good book needs: suspense, mystery, history, art, relationships, friendship, betrayal and death. Because the story keeps zapping between different scenes, it never gets tired. At the same time, it is not too composed.”
Paard van Troje Bookshop (NL)

“It is not for nothing that it received the August Prize 2020, the most important Swedish literature prize. This book is almost a recipe for writer’s block: it is almost impossible to top it.”
Kramer & Van Doorn Bookstore (NL)

“An extraordinarily impressive debut. And what an ending.”
Voted Book of the Month in Mezza MAGAZINE (NL)

“Reading this novel has been a tremendous pleasure, and Lydia Sandgren has obviously enjoyed writing it. A great novel.”
Maarten Moll in Het Parool (NL)

“A whirlwind novel.”
De Morgen (NL)

Collected Works [is] one of those books where the characters seem to become your friends, one that blurs the environment so that you miss the tram or run into a pole while reading. I bet there will be debuts in twenty years with a wrapper that reads: ”The new Lydia Sandgren is born.”
HUMO (NL)

“…a page turner […] It is almost inevitable that this novel will be made into a film. Cecilia’s complex family situation, the male friendship marked by alcohol and the surprising denouement lend themselves well to a typical Scandinavian family drama.”
de Volkskrant (NL)

“In her debut novel, the Swedish author Lydia Sandgren creates a complex plot that obeys only the primary objective of contemplating art, of understanding the ins and outs of artistic creation and the way it connects with life. (…) A text that celebrates the very height of what fiction is.”
El País (ES

“Lydia Sandgren’s imagination has managed to create from words, if not quite a whole universe, at least its autonomous part – a large and luxurious estate in the style of realism. Collected Works is clearly a modern literary construction, but many parts are reminiscent of the classical novelists from the second half of the nineteenth century. I never want to leave this world.”
AST (RU)

Collected Works stretches over a 30-year time period and appears as a filigree tale with luminous characters. Through the novel Lydia Sandgren expresses an homage to the love of literature, art and philosophy.”
Non/fictioNo24 (RU)

Collected Works: An amazing novel for a long weekend read – about love, loneliness and literature. (…) The author (…) has created an expansive polyphonous tale celebrating magnificent authors. Sartre, Camus, Selene, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Joyce – masters from different eras are not only mentioned in the novel, their works reference events and ideas that are paramount to the characters in it. (…) The result of a decade’s work, the novel by Lydia Sandgren, is intended to be read mindfully, a read under which it is well worth putting everything else aside, turn off the wi-fi and immerse yourself in the story. The reader will be rewarded with an enthralling mystery and a fantastic story about love, literature, and longing – as an integrated force steering decisions and actions.”
Gazeta (RU)

“As a practicing psychologist, Sandgren pays careful attention to her characters’ inner worlds – masterfully so – by painting expansive and deep psychological portraits. At the same time the author makes the characters come alive and immerses them in intriguing discussions on philosophy, anthropology, architecture, history, and literature of course. (…) The author expands, discretely, the background of every character and uncovers them through literary imagery and metaphors, as well as through works and authors they fancy. It’s worth noting, aside from Sandgren’s somewhat original approach to storytelling, Collected Works leaves no feeling of it being a philosophical thesis or monograph after reading. On the contrary, the writer possesses a rich but readily available language which renders the almost 700-page novel a fascinating read of outstanding quality. (…) Full of contradictions, the characters appear as human beings of flesh and blood with inherent strengths and weaknesses: genius verges on addiction, talent touches on doubt and intellectual prowess borders on an inability to grasp reality. (…) While reading it is at times impossible to swallow the lump in your throat, but Collected Works is in no way a sentimental novel designed to extract a mean tear from the reader. (…) Collected Works by Lydia Sandgren is, in contrast to her hero’s character, holistic and logically complete. The author raises themes of love and infidelity, friendship and unity, death and eternity, loneliness and domesticity, reality and fiction, at times tearing down the borders between them, other times drawing a thick line. At the end of the novel, the reader will have found answers to questions that might have arose during the 700-page read, but at the same time the author does not give any definite ending and offers a vast field for reflection.”
Russian.rt.com (RU)

“The mystery at the heart of the story adds urgency to this warm, engaging, and funny novel about the inebriation of youth and the sobriety of middle age; about lives shaped by art and ideas; about our human flaws and joys. Collected Works is a thoroughly enjoyable book.”
Ayşegül Savaş, critically acclaimed author of Walking on the Ceiling

“Lydia Sandgren’s Collected Works is the most convincing work of literary fiction I’ve read in years: one part family saga, one part buddy comedy, one part mystery, one part bildungsroman, and one part philosophical inquiry into the nature of art, the whole filled with unforgettable characters, wry humor, and knock-down gorgeous sentences, positively vibrating with intelligence and style. People often write, with varying degrees of accuracy, that new books feel destined to become classics, but Collected Works feels like it already is one—and you, lucky reader, have stumbled upon it.”
Emily Temple, writer of The Lightness and editor at LitHub

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