Collected Works (Hardcover)
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"A witty, toothy, family saga, unashamedly intellectual . . . that, like youth, seems to have it all—energy, aspiration, and self-delusion." —Catherine Taylor, Financial Times
"MEET SWEDEN'S SALLY ROONEY" —The Times of London
"A wry bestseller that reads like the effortlessly chic European cousin of Fleishman is in Trouble." —The Telegraph of London
"Poised at the intersection of life and art, reality and imagination, [Collected Works] blends the thrill of mystery with the curiosity and depth of philosophical inquiry." —The New Yorker
"Collected Works . . . is as insatiable in its read as it is insightful to modern challenges of family, memory, and finding purpose." —Matthew Bedard, Flaunt
"[A] sweeping and complex drama of family, art, and sacrifice . . . Readers will be captivated." —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"A richly evocative work from a major new talent." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
A compelling mystery and poignant bildungsroman for readers of Karl Ove Knausgård, Collected Works is a novel about love, power, and art—and what leads us to make the pivotal decisions that change the course of our lives.
Martin Berg’s wife, Cecilia, disappeared years ago. His memories of their carefree college days seem ever out of reach, and the intellectual curiosities that once made him the object of her desire have given way to midlife uncertainty. The methodical and quiet life he’s made for himself and his adult children couldn’t be further from the one he dreamed of in his youth, when the manuscripts lying around his apartment were flush with promise and his ailing publishing house was still new.
Perhaps nothing reminds Martin of these failures more than his friend Gustav Becker, a wildly successful painter who’s returned to Gothenburg on the eve of his career-defining retrospective. Gustav, meanwhile, is hurting too. His obsession with Cecilia’s inexplicable disappearance had made his art hagiographic, fixated on her image. When posters for Gustav’s retrospective plaster Cecilia’s face on major billboards across the city, Martin’s daughter Rakel learns a haunting fact that points toward her mother’s whereabouts. She and her brother chase this clue across time, memory, and Europe to discover why Cecilia abandoned her family, with the imagined hope that the question of what makes a person leave can ever be answered.
Collected Works, a major hit in Sweden, sold over 100,000 copies in its first year in print, instantly making Lydia Sandgren a literary sensation. Winner of the 2020 August Prize for Fiction, the novel is set to publish in 17 territories.
About the Author
Lydia Sandgren (b. 1987) is the eldest of seven siblings brought up in the west of Sweden. She has studied music and philosophy, and is a practicing psychologist today, living in Gothenburg, Sweden. Collected Works is her debut novel.
Agnes Broomé is a literary translator and academic in Scandinavian at Harvard University. With a PhD in Translation Studies, her translations include August Prize winners The Expedition by Bea Uusma, The Gospel of Eels by Patrik Svensson, and Collected Works by Lydia Sandgren.
"[Collected Works] has flavours of the realism of her countryman, Karl Ove Knausgard, more than a hint of emotional American big hitters like Jeffrey Eugenides or Jonathan Franzen, and something of the twists and turns of a chronicle like War and Peace."
—India Lewis, The Arts Desk (UK)
"Collected Works has been put together with the care of a medieval scribe and the patient skill of a master carver. It is without doubt one of the most meticulously built works of fiction I’ve read in a long time."
—Charlie Connelly, The New European (UK)
"This is the 600-page Swedish debut novel I will be pressing into everyone’s hands this spring. Don’t be alarmed! The pages frankly fly by—in fact, I wish there were more"
"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."
—Aysegül Savas, author of Walking on the Ceiling
"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."
—Anne Foley, Booklist
"[An] absorbing story . . . [Collected Works] is a witty, toothy, family saga, unashamedly intellectual but rarely bogged down by the weight of its theories . . . It's refreshing to read such a confidently ambitious work that holds art, literature, and philosophy close to its heart . . . Collected Works is an assured, bittersweet novel that, like youth, seems to have it all—energy, aspiration, and self-delusion."
—Catherine Taylor, Financial Times
"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, author of The Lightness