…a magnificent story about a northern Swedish village /… / Broberg’s writing is sinuously beautiful, vibrant and with a foreboding tone that provides a stark contrast to the taciturn dialogue. In addition, she mercilessly penetrates the psychological aspects, allowing desire and agony to appear completely undisguised with both despair and crudity. At the same time, there are examples of difficult choices made in order to soothe loneliness and to survive /… / I read Troubled Water without stopping and am impressed by the smooth shifts in the complex structure and how certain details echo throughout the whole story. It is a very powerful debut, that makes me curious about Broberg’s next move.
The agonizing family saga itself is engaging enough, and Assar and Margareta’s infatuation is captured with reticent but acute sensitivity, but the novel’s forte can mainly be found in the prose. Everyone knows about classic Västerbotten authors such as Lidman, Enquist and Lindgren, and a more recent, distinct voice like Stina Stoor has also added remarkable linguistic flavour to this barren part of the world. Maria Broberg is yet another compelling voice to emerge out of here. Her prose is deeply connected to the area and has a natural vigor and expression, that should make most southern writers turn green with envy /… / Maria Broberg is not concerned with expending details about the nature and setting that surrounds the characters, even though it is evidently part of her own everyday world. With precision she inserts enough patches of snow and ramshackle barns to supply the story with profound atmosphere. During this Corona age many of us have more time to read. Go ahead and please do start with Troubled Water!
Troubled Water is a dramatic, intense and subtle story with a strong sense of place. Multi-faceted and polyphonic. I am deeply impressed by Maria Broberg’s prose – the Västerbotten tonality is supremely captured – and by her ability to portray nuanced and complex characters. I will never be able to forget either Margareta, Håkan, Lars or Assar.
Nilas’ death in the mid-1960s is the catalyst for Maria Broberg’s debut novel Troubled Water, its dark heart, but it is the time before and after his short life that the story portrays: the mother’s secret love affair, the brother’s lifelong guilt /… / Broberg writes with a subtle poise that feels unusual for a debutant; she is unconcerned with gestures, confident that the story is strong enough. It is tempting to say that Västerbotten literature has gained yet another tremendous storyteller, but it may be slightly premature. There is, however, no doubt that the region has gained yet another tremendous story.