Stig Dagerman (1923–1954) is regarded as the most talented young writer of the Swedish post-war generation. By the 1940s, his fiction, plays, and journalism had catapulted him to the forefront of Swedish letters, with critics comparing him to William Faulkner, Franz Kafka, and Albert Camus. His suicide at the age of thirty-one was a national tragedy. This selection, containing a number of new translations of Dagerman’s stories never before published in English, is unified by the theme of the loss of innocence. Often narrated from a child’s perspective, the stories give voice to childhood’s tender state of receptiveness and joy tinged with longing and loneliness.
Dagerman wrote with beautiful objectivity. Instead of emotive phrases, he uses a choice of facts, like bricks, to construct an emotion.
An imagination that appeals to an unreasonable degree of sympathy is precisely what makes Dagerman’s fiction so evocative. Evocative not, as one might expect, of despair, or bleakness, or existential angst, but of compassion, fellow-feeling, even love.
—from the preface by Alice McDermott
Stig Dagerman writes with the tension that belongs to emergency—deliberately, precisely, breathlessly. To read Dagerman is to read with your whole body—lungs, heart, viscera, as well as mind. At once remote and intimate in tone, these works by one of the great twentieth-century writers come fully to life in a remarkable translation by Steven Hartman.
—Siri Hustvedt, author of The Summer Without Men
Stig Dagerman’s fearless, moving stories should be placed alongside the short fiction of such luminaries as James Joyce, Anton Chekhov, and Raymond Carver. You’ll find yourself holding your breath in wonder as you read, grateful to Dagerman (and Steven Hartman) for the gift of these stories.
—Edward Schwarzschild, author of The Family Diamond
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