It is the summer when the climate crisis escalates beyond our worst nightmares and raging wildfires in the Swedish countryside suddenly turn unwitting holidaymakers into climate refugees. And yet, against this hellscape, life must carry on as usual: teenage love stories, marital collapses, identity crises and revolts against hopeless parents continue to play out, even when reality is falling apart.
Didrik is a forty-year-old media consultant whose macho efforts to become the hero that saves his family render him a pathetic vision of masculine impotence. Melissa is a climate change denying influencer with a suitcase full of tragic dreams behind the superficial social media façade. André is the nineteen-year-old loser son of an international sports star who uses the erupting violence around him to orchestrate his own personal revenge on his negligent father. Vilja is Didrik’s fourteen-year-old daughter who steps into the unexpected role of competent organizer in the face of adult ineptitude.
Through these four inter-connected perspectives, seasoned writer Jens Liljestrand paints a picture of a very near future that is at once extraordinary and entirely realistic– while never ceasing to find dark humor at every turn. Using the acute climate crisis as a backdrop, Even if Everything Ends chronicles how the struggles of ordinary people go on even as the world as we know it is coming to an end.
“The four main stories about Didrik, Melissa, André and Vilja, in a choir of well-constructed mutual references, composes a mosaic where one dominant figure is brought to life: the climate crisis. The climate crisis is not only scrutinized as a consequence of the ruthless actions of humans. The catastrophe is rather related to their inability to act with dignity, to help each other.”
La Lettura (IT)
Liljestrand’s feverish, oftentimes elliptic writing, combined with a fragmented composition, distinguished by its leaps through time and space, results in the effect of a gigantic collage of moments in time. A zig-zag construction which skillfully accentuates the impressions of the apocalypse (…). By the end of the novel everyone – including the reader – will have travelled through the great gap dividing our theoretical knowledge on a subject from our ability to feel it in the flesh. Everyone will have met the suspense sprung from moments when our actions deviate from our good intentions. (…) It is this fever of Jens Liljestrand that creates an object of literature.
Le Monde (FR)
“Climate fugitive you said? Enjoy. The scene is set in Jens Liljestrand’s breathtaking, entertaining and outstanding novel Even if Everything Ends – in flowing translation by Andrea Fehlauer. (…) Jens Liljestrand, known for an excellent biography on Vilhelm Moberg (among other things) substantiates his novel like a stage for the shifting acts of the human circus: four narrators in the midst of collapse. (…) During the entirety of the novel’s soot-stained song from the abyss, fetid with the smell of burning rubber, resounds a mild morale about the life we once lived. About the choices we are faced with. Or as Vilja puts it: ‘Fucking live with it.’ ”
“Jens Liljestrand’s new book appears at the intersection of filmmaker Ruben Östlund and Norwegian writer Maja Lunde. It is about the climate, but also masculinity gone wrong.
The well-off father of three who tries to suck the most pleasure out of the yellowing lawns at the vacation home in Dalarna is a close relative of Östlund’s whimpy middle class husband from the film Force Majeure. (…) At the moment, there is a certain masochistic urge for texts about the end of the world, and Jens Liljestrand delivers.”
Sveriges Radio Kulturnytt i P1 (SE)
“Liljestrand’s writing is to the point and in style. He follows close behind his characters and let their different personalities bleed into the prose. Even if Everything Ends is written with devastating skill: simultaneously nerve-wracking, astute and consumedly entertaining.”
“Even if Everything Ends is not a classic dystopia, more like a typical realistic novel that happens to take place in a dystopian time: our own. It dosen’t seem very far-fetched to assume that Liljestrand, in a Jonathan Franzen-manner, wanted to write the big Swedish novel about the area of climate collapse.”
Svenska Dagbladet (SE)
“Liljestrand skillfully writes forth a pathetic and grandiose masculinity, a sprained pride and self pity (that is reminiscent of the male depiction in Ruben Östlunds’ Force Majeure), a disdain over children’s fixation with consumption mixed with tenderness and grief – over the fact that they grew up to become strangers, over the relationship with a wife with whom an arctic chill has struck root. (…) Liljestrand writes with an admirable prose which flows, and in its best moments it’s both poetic and psychological sharp. The book’s true merit, however, lies in how it evokes the experience of crisis, the normalcy that are has been disturbed; to all of the sudden find yourself in the middle of it: the smoke’s sting in your throat, the soot flakes raining down, the sky that has taken the color of night-old urine. What kind of an exercise in repression must you really muster to exist in such a world, how is everyday life ever possible again?”
Dagens Nyheter (SE)
“It is not difficult to understand why the book has received such hype before publication, it’s successful in honing in on pretty much all the great contemporary discussion topics. The book depicts how the climate crisis rages, Sweden’s forest are burning, the pandemic is wreaking havoc, extreme weather threatens and at the same time people are trying to withhold a sense of normalcy by going shopping, selling stuff as influencers and popping painkillers. (…) The book points an accusing finger toward world leaders who are more focused on growth than on the ecosystem’s survival. The story about the end of the world has always fascinated us. Apocalypses and dystopian realities have, at least for us Swedes, felt distant enough to mostly feel intriguing. But today, fiction about this gets under your skin.”
“An elegantly constructed novel. (…) The story is driven forward at a high pace. (…) Even if Everything Ends suggest that the climate crisis is a symptom of a more profound flaw in our society; a greedy desire for profit and selfishness that nearly the whole of Sweden’s population is steeped in.”
“Even if Everything Ends is a page turner. You’re hunted through scorching heat, through soot flakes, through the pathetic remains of the castle in the sky that was once the society in which we lived. Take out, lattes, motor boats, stupidity. (…) Jens Liljestrand strikes where it hurts the most, in the middle of the repressed fear that everything will soon be over. He skillfully captures all defense mechanisms, all idiotic arguments, all double agendas, that we live by in order to make it through yet another day of the rampant destruction of our living conditions.
It’s frightening, this novel with a mission that still succeeds in carrying its message as literature all the way to the finish line.”
“In the future Jens Liljestrand’s novel is probably going to be regarded as the first Swedish climate fiction of any considerable measure. It generously opens the discourse, over kitchen tables, bar counters, and in book clubs. How are we to live this one life? Who will I become, if and when, my world catches fire?”
“It is intriguing, well-written and thought provoking (…) Swedish Jens Liljestrand’s novel is a candidate, in my eyes, to be a ‘vacation read’, and there are not many current titles that can carry that honor (…) The book has an impressive length -without being boring – and offers interesting characters, a relevant story, and captivating language (…) Even if Everything Ends is effective prose as it offers us characters that, on one hand, has the capability to be climate critical but on the other hand don’t act accordingly (…) Liljestrand’s novel is quite suspenseful. There are a lot of twists and unexpected events, and different threads between the characters that the author weaves together. A motley quilt turns into a coherent narrative. Furthermore, it is a pleasure to see how Liljestrand succeeds in portraying how many different meanings the concept of ‘shame’ can hold. From climate shame to the deep shame over being human – not to mention the shame that clings to people that are unable to remain stable and understand their surroundings. Even if Everything Ends is relevant, a story for and about our time. Recommended.”
Jyllands Posten (DK)
“Jens Liljestrand’s climate novel Even if Everything Ends is a page turner. In a powerfully good story Jens Liljestrand lets a contemporary Sweden experience climate change with wildfires, streams of refugees, failures and responsibility – all without serving up any moral finger pointing. (…) A captivating book about the climate catastrophe’s effect on humanity. (…) The plot-driven story, which begins on Monday the 25th of August and ends a week later, is executed in rapid tempo. The story surprises with many twists and turns, but is so well constructed that it captivates the reader to the very last page. All in roughly 500 pages that leads us deep into a dystopian time – our time.”
“As thrilling and contemporary as Jens Liljestrand’s accounts on the impending catastrophe are, the masterstroke of the author, cultural journalist and literary critic lies, above all, in the choice of his antiheroes. Their selfish and phony revelations function as a magnifying glass for the issues we will face in a very near future. Liljestrand succeeds, with sensitive psychograms, in making the attitudes of Didrik, André, Vilja and Melissa comprehensible. They are a reminder of the empathy that is so urgently needed to face climate change together.”
“The book’s fast-paced plot creeps under your skin. We meet a family of four who are on the run from devastating, uncontrollable forest fires that are ravaging Sweden. Heat, lack of water, the approaching fire – this is the backdrop for psychologically insightful human behavior. This book drew me in with force, and didn’t let go until the very last page.”
“In this powerful novel ‘The Beginning of Tomorrow’, Jens Liljestrand unfolds a social panorama of the downfall against the background of climate tragedies. (…) A highly exciting but disillusioning novel.”
Die Presse am Sonntag (DE)
“You need only read fifty pages of this novel before you are transported into the middle of a riveting disaster film. The pandemic is over and Sweden is suspiring under a heat never felt before. After a steamy extramarital affair, Didrik attempts to save his marriage with Carola by having a third child. In a summerhouse, they suddenly find themselves occupied with bottles and diapers after ten years. When raging wildfires break out around them, the family – including a self-centered teenage daughter and nagging son – is forced to flee head over heels – by foot, since the battery to the BMW has gone flat. Liljestrand is immensely skilled in laying bare the growing sense of panic. A climate thriller about spoiled Northern Europeans who thought themselves spared but who suddenly must save their own skin.”
VPRO Gids (NL)
“[Even if Everything Ends] spans one apocalyptic week […], offers convincing characters and a compelling narrative and is incredibly topical. An outstanding and unsettling novel.”
“In his own way, romantic and irreconcilable, the Swedish writer appeals to our common sense as much as to our lost innocence – to save what can still be saved.”
La Vie (FR)
“Through his first-person novel, already translated into 22 languages, the Swede Jens Liljestrand extends a firm warning. A universal SOS signal that questions the place of men and women in the face of catastrophe. (…) While fires rage outside our doors, can humans change? Words, as beautiful and spiritual as they may be, are they still enough? (…) Literature can, perhaps, help.”
“It is hard to take a step back from this text as it alludes to images looping on television, since fiction lies so close to reality. This novel was supposed to be a warning, but it becomes a testimony. (…) Because of that, it is important to recognize that, beyond style and plot, Jens Liljestrand has a fine-tuned sense of the moment, the urgency of time and the relationship we all have to this burning world. It is also a strength of the moment, the staging of characters whose favored reactions differ: panic, indifference, lassitude…”
“In his impressive first [French] novel Jens Liljestrand probes our world and its decadence, to give joy a chance.”
Les Echos (FR)
“While wildfires ravage part of the globe, Jens Liljestrand’s novel resounds an unequalled echo. (…) There are books with their ear to the ground, and through that they expose us.”
“A literary phenomenon as soon as it was published.”
Usbek & Rica (FR)
“Jens Liljestrand’s admirable skill of narration lasts until the very last phrase.”
La Croix (FR)
“What an achievement! This breathtaking Swedish novel is one of the most powerful reads on our time that is confronted with global warming.”
Le Pelerin (FR)