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.
“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?”