Is it possible to influence the future, or has it already been decided by the events of the past? With Malma Station, master storyteller and international bestselling author Alex Schulman returns in a new novel that is as emotionally powerful as it is stylistically elegant. By tracing the crooked lines of family and history and showing how memories morph to take new shape, he proposes that perhaps the past is actually what we can change while the contours of our future have been drawn in permanent ink.
A train races through a saturated summer landscape. On board are a married couple in crisis, a single dad and his young daughter, and a woman searching for the answer to a mystery her mother left behind. They are all traveling to Malma station and neither they nor the reader know how their fates are intertwined – or that what is about to happen at their destination will come to redefine their lives. The enigmatic Harriet, the controlling Oskar, and the searching Yana – each of these characters carries within them the scars of what has come before as they struggle to connect the dots.
In his characteristic precise prose, Alex Schulman builds a narrative like a train hurtling through time; each chapter a separate car hooking into the next. Malma Station is at once an enchanting and gut-wrenching novel about family secrets and injustices passed on through generations – and a suspenseful hunt for a truth with the power to change everything.
“For days I’ve been wandering around in agony, there is something dark about me, and I find I must keep telling my family how much I love them. It is the Schulman-effect. It is Malma Station’s fault. […] The story about a family where silence and absence are inherited is heartbreaking. The unbearable loneliness that children can carry, well into adulthood, gets too close. It gives you no peace. But it also calls for responsibility because it is possible to break with the silent heritage. It must be.”
Greta Schüldt, Dagens Nyheter (SE)
“A deeply touching novel that targets your heart. But then again, he writes about something that he masters completely – family secrets. With obliterating clarity and great tenderness he portrays people who are connected through family ties, and what life does to them. About betrayal, faithlessness, and open wounds that are inherited through generations. One of this fall’s great reading experiences.”
Ingalill Mosander, Aftonbladet (SE)
“At times during the reading of Malma Station I am completely stunned by how merciless a child’s marginalization can be. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic event per se, even if Schulman always spices up his novels with unexpected drastic and bizarre incidents – and Malma Station is no exception. But it can be enough with a fleeting, seemingly innocent comment, whose unfathomable consequence Schulman depicts with his essential, clean prose in a way that sends shivers down the spine.”
Therese Eriksson, Dagens Nyheter (SE)
“I don’t make it further than the scene with the squirrel on page fifteen before I want to put my forehead to the table and cry. Don’t ask me why. But there is something about how Alex Schulman just at the very start of his new novel Malma Station lets a girl remember a squirrel that sits extremely still and a father’s comment that pushes me into such a desolate feeling. […] When Alex Schulman is at his best he writes the desolation of life, and everyone’s inability to handle it, with dignity and a light hand, as if in passing. In Malma Station, this ability carries the entire book. […] No, what makes Malma Station Alex Schulman’s best book so far is the elegant balance between the personal and the universal.”
“One thing I really like about Alex Schulman’s authorship is that he always stands on the side of the child. Sure, there are often reasons to why adults act the way they do, but it’s the way this affects the child in its dependency that he portrays which such skill. I also really enjoy his sensibility for the tiny and intimate details. Alex Schulman’s strength as an author lies in his rare ability to, in just a few sentences, concretely capture a situation or an event and deliver it to the reader, without ever being too obvious or coarse.”
Borås Tidning (SE)
“It’s the longing to find out the details that propels this novel forward in true page-turning fashion, but Shulman’s skill as a storyteller is not the only takeaway from this novel. The perceived parental betrayal, the subject matter Schulman constantly revolves around, is here portrayed just as elusive as it is. It is possible for parents to love their children and still behave badly, and to children it is nearly impossible not to love their parents – even when they don’t deserve it. From that dynamic can both pain and atonement be born, and not rarely – as with Schulman – both exist at the same time.”
“Few writers have Alex Schulman’s eye for a child’s vulnerability and singular sensibility. […] Schulman is such a genuine and natural storytelling talent. Even though the structure is at times unwieldy the story is propelled forward by a narrative voice that has a rare ability to capture and maintain the reader’s interest. It is difficult to put this novel down. The gaze, or the perfect pitch, for the child’s marginalization and inner world makes this novel deeply moving.”
Svenska Dagbladet (SE)
“Malma Station is a cleverly told family mystery. It is thrilling, uneasy, juicy, easy to read and at times incredibly beautiful.”
“The novel has something important to say through its broken form. That we are joined together across generational borders. That personal flaws are inherited, and thus aren’t that personal after all. Or that the passing of time in a way is illusory. A chronological story would hide this, and it would also be forced to decide which of the characters is the most important. Schulman gives equal weight to all three of them. In a way, this is a humanistic, in fact democratic novel. The shifting perspectives convey a loyalty with the people involved. They are allowed to speak up with all their quirks and faults, which makes you understand them in the end, even the at the start annoying Harriet. It is both elegant and effective.”
“Alex Schulman’s new novel should be read as a fluid, unreliable memory landscape. It is at its best when it moves away from demands of realism and illuminates scenes with a dreamlike glow […] The risks [Schulman] takes makes this a truly fine novel.”
“Schulman has polished his excellent language further, and really put hard work into the plot. […] It is elegantly executed.”
Sveriges Radio (SE)
“As always, Alex Schulman’s style is impeccable, and it has evolved beautifully throughout his novels. Schulman has the ability to put his finger on the soft spots of humanity and twist them around a few painful turns. This is a novel with low intensity that touches upon matters of high relatability. A reading experience that stays with you.”
“[Schulman’s] authorship remains loyal with the child. Time after time, he bears witness of an adult world that fails. […] Even though this is fiction with an elaborate novel structure, there is so much of Alex Schulman himself in these characters. […] When you sense that the pain stems from his own experiences […] is when the novel shines at its brightest.”